Coalition crisis: Reactions to Idit Silman's defection

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Lawmaker Idit Silman leads a committee meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on November 30, 2021.
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90Lawmaker Idit Silman leads a committee meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on November 30, 2021.

Former coalition allies express disappointment, while opposition embraces lawmaker

Wednesday's resignation by coalition whip Idit Silman elicited a range of reactions from across Israel's political spectrum, with her former parliamentary allies expressing disappointment while her new friends in the opposition welcomed the decision.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Silman, who was from his right-wing Yamina party, "broke" after constant abuse by supporters of Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionism party.

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"Idit was persecuted for months, verbally abused by supporters of Bibi and Smotrich at the most horrific level," Bennett said on Wednesday evening. "She described to me the threats against her husband Shmulik's workplace and her children in Bnei Akiva. She broke in the end."

Netanyahu, who was removed from power this past summer after 12 years as Israel's longest-serving prime minister, embraced Silman.

"Idit, you're proof that what guides you is the concern for the Jewish identity of Israel, the concern for the land of Israel, and I welcome you back home to the national camp," Netanyahu said in a video statement.

"I call on whoever was elected with the votes of the national camp to join Idit and come back home, you'll be received with all due honor and open arms."

Coalition reactions

"This move can only lead to one result and that is a general election. The last thing Israeli society needs at the moment is another election campaign." — Labor MK Gilad Kariv

"I know we will work hard to overcome this hurdle too, and with hard work, I'm sure it will be OK." — Yamina Secretary General Stella Weinstein

"Israel is in danger of a corrupt nationalist government of Ben-Gvir, Netanyahu and Smotrich." — Meretz MK Mossi Raz

"If Idit Silman was looking for a reason, she was probably looking for any reason she could find." — Meretz MK Yair Golan 

"I hope it is reversible. This government is doing good things for the people; it was formed because of a political exigency, but I think it is very worthwhile for it to continue to function,” — Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana

Opposition Reactions

Silman is "saving the State of Israel from a dangerous and unprecedented process of deep damage to the Jewish character of the state and the foundations of its existence." — Likud faction head Yariv Levin

Silman's resignation represents "the end of Bennett's non-Zionist government and the Islamic movement and as soon as it's possible it should be replaced by a Jewish, Zionist and national government." — Smotrich

"I tend to believe that if it goes all the way there will be a few more MKs who will not want to continue in the coalition, and that will lead to the end of the government." — Likud MK Miki Zoha

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