Israel’s ruling coalition becomes minority after lawmaker quits

by mcardinal


Israel‘s ruling coalition on Thursday became a minority in parliament when an Arab Member of Knesset (MK) from a left-wing party quit, leaving Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with a more precarious grip on power.

The defection by Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, who in a letter circulated in Israeli media said she was pulling her support for the government on ideological grounds, leaves Bennett controlling 59 of the 120 seats in the Knesset and gives the opposition a majority of 69 MKs.

Bennett heads a collection of left-wing, centrist, right-wing, and Arab parties that was sworn in a year ago, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s record 12-year run as prime minister.

It lost its slight majority last month when a lawmaker from Bennett’s own right-wing party quit the coalition.

The government is now more vulnerable and would need to find external support should the opposition bring a no-confidence vote in parliament. Zoabi’s departure could bring about an election in the fall and as early as mid-September according to the Jerusalem Post.

In her letter to Bennett informing him she was quitting, Zoabi, a legislator from the Meretz party, referenced an escalation in violence at a Jerusalem holy site as well as hard-handed tactics by Israeli police at the funeral last week of a Palestinian journalist.

“I cannot keep supporting the existence of a coalition that shamefully harasses the society I came from,” she said.

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters