Nir Orbach's resignation puts the Israeli government in check

Israel's ruling coalition is made up of far-right, liberal and Arab parties of opposing ideologies

AFP/ MENAHEM KAHANA  -   General view of a plenary session in the Knesset in Jerusalem

The coalition at the helm of Israel's government came close to collapse after news broke that a lawmaker from minister Naftali Bennett's right-wing party announced he was quitting the government. "I have informed the prime minister that, based on the current situation, I am no longer part of the coalition," said Nir Orbach, a member of the far-right Yamina party, according to a statement published by several national media outlets.

Orbach did not immediately make a statement, although in a statement he said that "extremist and anti-Zionist" members of parliament had steered the coalition "in problematic directions". In his speech he declared that he wanted to avoid another election and would not vote to dissolve parliament. In this context, the now opposition leader Neetanyahu, who is on trial for alleged corruption, said that the government was celebrating "one of the longest funerals in history".

 A government with clear signs of weakness

After weeks of disagreements between the government partners, the most obvious sign of the coalition's weakness came last week when parliament failed to give the green light to a bill to extend civil rights to Israelis settled in the occupied West Bank. The parliamentary drubbing has set off alarm bells about the possibility of a fifth election in three years, although there is a possibility that the bill could be sent back to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, for a second attempt before the end of the month.

AFP/ADEM ALTAN  -  Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

The new law, which in a climate of stability would have enjoyed broad support in parliament and has already been renewed several times over the past half-century, has fallen victim to the tense climate between the government and the opposition.

The fragmentation of the government comes at a time of rising tension with Iran. Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called on Israeli citizens not to go to Turkey and to leave the country as soon as possible if they are already there. This announcement came after thwarting the Arab country's attempts to attack Israel. "The Israeli security services, the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's office," Lapid continued in a speech to parliament, "have in recent weeks been engaged in enormous efforts to save Israeli lives. Meanwhile, some of them have come to Israel without knowing that their lives have been saved". He was referring to several planned attacks that, according to local Israeli media, have been foiled.

AFP PHOTO / HO / PRESIDENCIA IRANÍ  - A handout image provided by the Iranian presidency on 20 March 2021 shows Hassan Rouhani delivering a speech on the occasion of Noruz, the Iranian New Year, in Tehran

Lapid also added that the target of these attacks is Israeli tourists "to kidnap or kill them. This is a real and immediate danger even now," adding, "If you are planning a trip to Israel, cancel it. No holiday is worth your lives or the lives of your loved ones." The minister thanked the Turkish authorities for their efforts to protect Israeli citizens and issued a warning to Iranian leaders that "those who strike at Israelis will pay. Israel's long hand will uncover those responsible wherever they are". According to Israeli analysts, Turkey's Jewish community could also be targeted by Iranian attacks.