When Benjamin Netanyahu persuaded Kadima to join his coalition in May, Israeli newspapers nicknamed their prime minister “King Bibi”.
But now his parliamentary majority has been slashed, after Kadima pulled out in a row over whether ultra-Orthodox Jews should do military service.
Kadima holds 28 seats in the 120-seat Knesset and without them, Netanyahu has a majority of just six. And that includes many right-wing groups.
Kadima party leader, Shaul Mofaz, defended the move saying: “The public will not be the only one to judge Benjamin Netanyahu, history will too and history does not look kindly upon those who could have done everything and chose to do nothing.”
Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who number some 60,000, have been protesting efforts to include them in military service. But Kadima had made ending their blanket exemption one of its key aims when it joined Netanyahu’s coalition in May.
Jewish men and women are usually drafted for two and three-year stints at the age of 18. Kadima’s stance reflects growing public pressure for the military burden to be shared more equally.