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Chances Reduced of Early Elections in Israel

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19 Nov 2018 (All day)
Chances Reduced of Early Elections in Israel
The possibility of early elections being forced on the governing coalition of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu diminished sharply on Monday morning when Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, leaders of the Bayit Yehudi party, held a press conference at the Knesset and walked back a threat to leave the coalition and trigger elections if Bennet was not appointed to fill the position of Defense Minister, vacated last week by Israel Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon remains the only leader in the coalition still favoring early elections, with many analysts casting doubt on his ability to force through the decision on his own.

Netanyahu gave a nationally televised address at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Sunday in which he said that Israel is “in one of the most complex security situations. At a time like this, we do not topple a government and hold an election. It’s irresponsible…do not abandon the battle in the middle. We do not play politics in the middle of a battle. National security goes beyond politics and personal considerations. I am making every effort to prevent an unnecessary early election. I told coalition party leaders to show responsibility… for Israel and Israel’s security.”

“When we make these decisions in matters of life of death about the existence of the state – these matters are no place for politics,” he stated. “Most citizens know that when I make security decisions I do it out of honest and deep concern for the good of our country, and the security of our citizens and our soldiers. These are not slogans.”

“I won’t tell you when I am going to act (against Hamas in Gaza) but I have a clear plan. I know what we will do and when. And we will do it. With the strength of our soldiers and the resilience of our citizens, we will defeat our enemies.”

Bennet and Shaked explained during their remarks that the speech persuaded them to stay in the coalition for the time being. Both also made it clear they were unhappy staying in a coalition under Netanyahu’s leadership, saying that they thought they could do a better job than him at leading the country, but acknowledging that now is not the time.

Interior Minister and leader of the Shas faction Arye Deri, who also favored early elections, issued a statement on Sunday shortly before Netanyahu’s speech in which he said he had changed his mind.

Meanwhile, sources close to the Prime Minister were saying on Monday that he will appoint MKs from his coalition to fill the roles of Foreign Minister and perhaps other portfolios he currently holds in the coming days.


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