Jerusalem – Israel’s ruling coalition became a minority in parliament after lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of the left-wing Meretz party resigned.
Zoabi announced her resignation from the government to coalition leaders Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in a letter distributed in Israeli media on Thursday.
He said he withdrew his support for the government on ideological grounds, leaving Bennet with just 59 of the 120 seats in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.
“Unfortunately, in recent months, out of narrow political considerations, coalition leaders have chosen to preserve and strengthen their right-wing flank,” the letter says.
The Israeli-Palestinian lawmaker added that she “cannot support a coalition that is shamefully harassing the society I come from.”
He explained that the violence against worshipers in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and during the funeral procession of the murdered Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh last Friday were some of the events that led to his decision.
Zoabi also wrote that she initially joined the coalition hoping the government could help bring “a new path of equality and respect,” but that coalition leaders had chosen to take “aggressive, hard-line positions and from right”.
Israeli lawmaker Shlomo Karhi from the opposition Likud party led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the move.
“There are anti-Zionists like Zoabi fighting even in a totally anti-Zionist government,” he tweeted.
“The truth is, rightly so. This government has absolutely no value. They sold everything, whether from the right or from the left, out of respect and power,” Karhi said.
He added: “We live in days when anti-Zionists are helping Jews get rid of the government.”
Israeli-Palestinian lawmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana, a member of the Labor Party that is part of the ruling coalition, said in a tweet that she was saddened by Zoabi’s resignation.
“This coalition has been very important in the complicated reality of Israel. Every day this coalition survives is a day that light triumphs over darkness,” he said.
Israeli-Palestinian lawmaker Sami Abu Shehada of the Joint Arab List told Al Jazeera that he would have to wait until Zoabi’s next move before he could comment.
‘Earthquake for the Israeli government’
According to Israeli analyst Eli Nissan, Zoabi’s resignation puts the prospect of a snap election back on the table, which would be the fifth in Israel in three years.
“Zoabi’s defection is an earthquake for the Israeli government. His and Silman’s resignations have not led to any majority in parliament,” Nissan said, referring to Idit Silman, a key member of Bennett’s own right-wing Yamina party who resigned from the government last month.
Silman resigned in a surprise move that left the prime minister with 60 instead of 61 seats in parliament, causing Bennet’s coalition to lose its slim majority.
“The next step would be a call for a no-confidence vote,” Nissan said, as Israeli media reported that Knesset sources expected the opposition to request a motion to dissolve the government next Wednesday.
While Nissan explained that Lapid and other members of parliament were trying to convince Zoabi to reverse his decision, it said: “If all these attempts fail, there will be a call for new elections in September.”
Bennett leads a collection of left, center, right and Arab parties that were sworn in a year ago, ending Netanyahu’s record 12-year run as prime minister.
Israeli media reported that Zoabi’s own party, Meretz, was unaware of her decision to resign and that she refused to meet with party leader Nitzan Horowitz.