On Monday, allegations surfaced that a lawmaker from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s right-wing party had stated he was “no longer member” of the government, putting Israel’s fragile ruling coalition in jeopardy.

Bennett’s ideologically varied coalition, which includes hard right, liberal, and Arab parties, has been teetering on the verge of implosion a year after ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s record 12-year dominance.

“I have notified the prime minister that, due to the current situation, I am no longer a member of the coalition,” said Nir Orbach of the hard right Yamina party in a statement carried by multiple Israeli news sources.

Orbach’s statement said “extremist and anti-Zionist” members of parliament had moved the coalition “in difficult directions,” but he had no immediate reply. In a statement, he stated that he did not want another election and that he would not vote to dismiss parliament.

Bennett’s coalition was two members shy of a majority in the 120-member Knesset after his departure, with 59 MPs (parliament).

The government is staging “one of the longest funerals in history,” according to Netanyahu, who is now the head of the opposition and pledging a comeback while being on trial for alleged corruption.

The clearest indicator of the coalition’s fragility came last week, when a bill extending Israeli civil law rights to settlers in the occupied West Bank was defeated in parliament after weeks of wrangling between the partners.

The law is expected to be returned to the Knesset (parliament) for a second effort before the end of the month, bringing the threat of a fifth election in three years closer.

The settlers law, which has been continuously renewed over the past five decades and would typically enjoy broad support in parliament, fell victim to the increasingly acrimonious climate between the administration and the opposition.

During a debate in parliament, Netanyahu informed Bennett, who was formerly one of his closest advisers, that “you are not fighting for our country, but for your own seat.”

Bennett, a former commando and internet billionaire who entered national politics in 2013, claimed that his administration had increased economic growth, reduced unemployment, and erased the deficit for the first time in 14 years.

“These days, we’re battling for the government,” he told the Knesset. “We’re fighting because there’s just one option: chaos or stability.”


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