JERUSALEM -- Monday's announcement by a member of the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet's party that he would no longer vote with the governing coalition was a blow to the struggling government marking one year in office.
Nir Orbach, a lawmaker with the religious-nationalist Yemina party, was the latest member of the ruling alliance to abandon support in the Knesset, Israel's parliament.
Bennett's coalition of eight different parties has been left without a clear majority in order to pass legislation due to a trickle of rebellions and defections over the past weeks. This raises questions about its viability.
After four deadlocked elections in which largely was decided on Benjamin Netanyahu's fitness for rule, Bennett's government was sworn into office last June. His coalition includes hawkish ultranationalists, dovish liberals, and a small Islamist group. They are united in opposing Netanyahu, but they have very little else in common.
The coalition failed to find common ground despite promising to not deal with critical issues like Israel's policies regarding the Palestinians. Two of its members fled. The coalition and the opposition now hold 60 seats each in the 120-member parliament making it difficult to pass legislation.
An earlier bill to extend legal protections for Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank was not passed by parliament. The bill was defeated by two members of the coalition, while others abstained.
Orbach stated in a statement that he had told Bennett he was "not part of" the coalition. But, he expressed hope that the coalition could be saved and said that he would not vote to dissolve parliament or send the country to another round.
The coalition in trouble can still be in power until the majority of lawmakers votes to dissolve parliament or appoint a new prime minister. Both scenarios are unlikely to occur.
Bennett stated in a speech to the Knesset, "This government isn’t perfect but the alternative isn’t better."
On Twitter, his main ally, Foreign Minister Yair Lepid, stated that this was the only way to preserve Israeli democracy and strengthen the state of Israel.