Will former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu return to power in Israel? The chance has opened up after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who had managed to stitch together a ragtag coalition of sorts a little less than a year ago, lost the majority in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Netanyahu has called on Bennett to resign and asked his right-wing supporters across parties to unite. Netanyahu attended a rally in Jerusalem on Wednesday, asking the right-wing lawmakers in the failed coalition "to return home."
Bennett's government is teetering on the edge after one of his Yamina party lawmakers quit the coalition after disagreeing with the government's decision to allow unleavened bread in stores during Passover, violating the orthodox Jewish conventions.
Lawmaker Idit Silman announced her decision saying she cannot be part of a move to harm the Jewish identity of Israel. "I tried the path of unity. I worked a lot for this coalition ... Sadly, I cannot take part in harming the Jewish identity of Israel," said Silman.
"I am ending my membership of the coalition and will try to continue to talk my friends into returning home and forming a rightwing government .. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way," she added, according to the Guardian.
Bennett led an unseemly coalition consisting of parties ranging from the Jewish right to an Arab Muslim party. With MK Idit Silman leaving the coalition, Bennett's support has shrunk to 60, the same as the Opposition. He is not legally resigned to quit as prime minister, but the loss of the majority makes his government untenable.
Bennett's downfall comes at a difficult time for Israel, with the Jewish state witnessing a resurgence of Islamic terrorism in the country.
Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, holds great influence in the country's politics and now he has got the political opportunity to leverage the national security crisis. As many 11 Israelis died in terror attacks in the last two and a half weeks.
Resurgence o Terrorism
Netanyahu has squarely blamed Bennett for the escalation of Islamic terrorism, saying that the prime minister's 'weakness' allowed the surge of violence. "When terror smells weakness, it lifts its head. When it encounters strength, it stays low ...There's no place for the weak in our neighborhood ... The weak ones are attacked and the strong ones are left alone. That's the rule," he added. That's why Israel needs a strong government. A government that will fight terrorism, that will contain Iran, that will safeguard Israel's legacy and save the livelihood of its citizens," Netanyahu said, according to the Times of Israel.
Netanyahu had earlier made the clarion call for change in the Knesset as well. "There is a weak and limp government in Israel today. Its days are numbered," he said while speaking at a special session of the Knesset.
Meanwhile, Bennett took the battle to Netanyahu, saying that the former prime minister's supporters had threatened MK Idit Silman. "Idit was persecuted for months, verbally abused by supporters of Bibi and Smotrich at the most horrific level .. She described to me the threats against her husband Shmulik's workplace and her children in Bnei Akiva. She broke in the end," Bennett said, according to the Jerusalem Post.