Idit Silman quits coalition after dispute over Passover matzah rules in hospitals
An Israeli lawmaker quit the ruling coalition government on Wednesday over a dispute over rules for Passover matzah in hospitals, throwing the alliance into disarray without a majority in parliament.
The departure of backbencher Idit Silman raises the possibility of new parliamentary elections less than a year after the government took office. While Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government remains in power, it is now paralyzed in the 120-seat parliament and will likely struggle to function.
Silman, of Bennett’s Yamina party, had opposed allowing sourdough bread and other foodstuffs to be brought into public hospitals – items that are forbidden by religious tradition during the Passover holiday, reported Kan public broadcaster. For some devout Jews, the mere presence of such foods in the hospital is not kosher.
Bennett’s coalition of eight political parties ranging from extremists to hardline nationalists and liberals – all united only in their opposition to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – now holds 60 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
The Knesset is currently on recess, and it remains unclear whether the opposition will now have enough support to stage a no-confidence vote and send Israelis to the polls for the fifth time in just over three years.
Silman, said she “cannot contribute to harming the Jewish character of the State of Israel and the people of Israel,” and that she would work to form a right-wing government, Kan reported.
READ ALSO :
Israel has held four elections in two years in a protracted political crisis over Netanyahu’s fitness to govern as he stands trial for corruption. The deadlocked election was finally broken in June when Bennett and his allies ousted Netanyahu after 12 years in power by cobbling together a coalition of unlikely allies.
Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute think tank, said that while Silman’s departure did not bring down the government, it put the country “into political crisis mode”.
“The Bennett government is losing its majority in parliament and its degree of freedom to maneuver, to pass laws, to obtain a majority for its decisions,” Plesner said.
Netanyahu, now opposition leader, praised Silman and “welcomed her home to the nationalist camp.”