How Israel’s Bennett lost its Majority

The Story

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assumed office nine months ago but has been unable to get a hold of the parliament. Now, observers are wondering if his days are numbered.

What’s happening there?
Bennett put together an alliance of parties, ranging from the Jewish right and Israeli doves to an Arab Muslim party, to give him a 61-seat majority in Israel’s 120-seat parliament. But on Monday, a key member of the coalition quit, meaning Bennett lost his majority. Quitting the coalition, Idit Silman said in a statement, “Sadly, I cannot take part in harming the Jewish identity of Israel.”

What’s that about?
Silman, a religious conservative who chaired the coalition, lashed out at the country’s health minister after he instructed hospitals to allow leavened bread products into their facilities during the upcoming Passover holiday. Jewish tradition bars leavened bread from the public domain during Passover, but a recent supreme court ruling reversed years of that prohibition.

How does the parliament stand now?
If another member of the coalition defects, the Knesset could hold a vote of no confidence and Israel could find itself facing a fifth parliamentary election in four years. The right-wing former prime minister and now opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Silman back into the conservative fold.