Ehud Olmert’s coalition government is hanging by a thread today after the defection of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, a hardline right-wing faction staunchly opposed to peace talks with the Palestinians. “Negotiations on the basis of land for peace are a critical mistake and will destroy us,” said a party spokesman. Olmert’s coalition is left with just a seven-vote majority, Reuters reports.
Olmert’s office said peace talks would continue, but the defection is a major blow to the already politically vulnerable PM. Olmert is pushing for a Palestinian state conditioned on Israeli security. Beiteinu prefers a swap of territory and people—namely Israel’s 20% ethnic Arab minority. “Our problem is not with the Palestinians, but with Israeli Arabs,” he said.