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Israeli coalition loses majority as whip Idit Silman makes dramatic exit

Israel’s government appeared on the verge of collapse on Wednesday after coalition whip Idit Silman announced she was stepping down to form a new government, causing the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali to lose a majority. Bennett.

Silman, who did not notify Bennett of her move in advance, said she was resigning because of “damage” to Jewish identity in Israel.

“The time has come to form a national, Jewish and Zionist government,” she wrote in a letter announcing her resignation.

She called on Bennett to “join hands and express the values ​​for which we were elected.”

“I will not encourage the attack on the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the people of Israel. I will continue to try to persuade my friends to return home and form a right-wing government,” she said. “I know I’m not the only one who feels this. Another government can be formed in this Knesset.

Silman, who is a Knesset member in Bennett’s Yamina party, chose to defect after clashing with Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz over his order to hospitals to allow visitors and patients to bring medicine. non-kosher food for Passover, known as chametz. , during the Passover – thus contravening Jewish law.

“During the Holocaust, people fasted on Passover day so as not to eat chametz, and a minister from the State of Israel in a coalition like ours unfortunately says to introduce chametz,” she said.

File/Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Silman and urged other coalition members to follow suit. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Losing its 61-MP majority means the ruling coalition government would need the support of the opposition, led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to push forward any legislation.

Israeli media reported that Silman struck a deal with Netanyahu to form a government with his Likud party in return for receiving the Health Ministry portfolio.

Following his announcement, Netanyahu congratulated Silman and urged other coalition members to follow suit.

“Today we are happy – congratulating MK Idit Silman for making the right decision. We all accept it with a warm embrace and open arms. Go home – to the true right, to the national camp”, Netanyahu said.

“Join Idit. Together we will form a strong national government that will take care of all Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu added, calling the current government “weak.”

The current government, a motley coalition formed between right-wing, centrist, left-wing and Arab parties, has weathered several storms in the ten months he has been in power. The coalition also had many firsts: it was the first time an Arab party sat in the ruling coalition and the first time Israel had a religious Jew as prime minister.

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