Published: Mon, November 19, 2018

Israel's Netanyahu says early election must be avoided

Israel's Netanyahu says early election must be avoided

I would like to say that now when we are witnessing one of the most hard periods in terms of security, we can not topple the government and hold an early election.

Netanyahu's coalition was thrown into crisis Wednesday when Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned over a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal, sparking speculation over whether early elections were now inevitable.

A week ago, Israel and Hamas were on the brink of a large-scale conflict after Hamas fired more than 400 rockets and mortars at Israel, while the IDF retaliated by sending its warplanes to bomb around a hundred sites in Gaza.

The departure of Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu party leaves the coalition with a one-seat majority in the 120-member parliament.

"We remember well what happened when sources from within the coalition caused the government's dissolution in 1992 and 1999, leading to the Oslo disaster and the disaster of the Second Intifada", Netanyahu argued, during a government meeting on Sunday.

Netanyahu's office told the network in response to the report that the prime minister's sole concern vis-a-vis the United States peace plan is Israel's security. "We remember well what happened when elements inside the coalitions took down Likud governments in 1992 and in 1999", he said, noting the past two elections in which the Labor Party came to power.

"The security of the country is above political considerations", Netanyahu said while insisting that calling elections now would be "irresponsible".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd from right) meets at his Jerusalem office with the ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (right); White House adviser Jared Kushner (center); US Ambassador David Friedman (second left); and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, on June 22, 2018.

He also spoke of his military experience and said he could not publicly explain in detail the sensitive security moves now being taken by Israel.


"If (Netanyahu) pulls a rabbit out of his hat, we'll see", the finance minister, whose centre-right Kulanu party holds 10 seats, told Israeli television Saturday.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, has already threatened to bring down the government if he is not appointed defense minister.

"Meanwhile, I don't see a rabbit or a hat".

Both Lieberman and Bennett compete with Netanyahu's Likud for right-wing voters and have spoken in favour of harsh Israeli military action against Gaza's dominant Hamas Islamists.

Bennett is one of Netanyahu's main right-wing rivals. "The two agreed to meet later in the week".

The crisis was set into motion with Lieberman's resignation over the ceasefire, which he labelled "capitulating to terror".

There has always been speculation that the premier may call elections before they are due, particularly with police having recommended charges against him in two corruption probes.

But Netanyahu would want to make such a move at the most advantageous time and likely not with public attention focused on the Gaza ceasefire.

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