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Netanyahu says ‘unnecessary and wrong’ to call snap Israeli polls

20 November 2018

Following the political storm in recent days, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trying to prevent the coalition's dissolution, the ministers in the Habayit Hayehudi party have announced their support for the prime minister.

Minutes before Netanyahu addressed the nation on prime time television, Jewish Home leader an Education Minister Naftali Bennett and his deputy, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, said they would be holding a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday.

Bennett's ultimatum was seen by nearly all political analysts, experts and commentators as the death knell of the current government, especially after Jewish Home called a surprise press conference after being rebuffed by Netanyahu.

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 debate is no longer about who will be the defense minister in the Netanyahu government, but rather who will replace him, and the reins of national security must be in our hands", Livni stressed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he would take on his country's defence minister portfolio, rejecting calls to dissolve his government even as early elections appeared increasingly likely.

Demonstrations have taken place in this area on Mondays since Palestinians began a wider protest movement in late March against a decade-long Israeli blockade of Gaza. He said he would stay in the government despite Mr Netanyahu's refusal to appoint him defence minister.

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In a 20-minute televised speech, Bennett harshly criticized the Yisrael Beytenu leader for his shortcomings as the defense minister.

"I only hope the agreement made over the past 12 hours between Netanyahu and Bennett doesn't bring us a futile political war, moments before the elections, and force soldiers and civilians to sacrifice their lives because Bibi and Bennett forged a deal", Zandberg added. Aumann told Bennett to forget about game theory and that "the country's security is above all". "We are in the middle of a military campaign, and you don't abandon a campaign to play politics", Netanyahu said.

MK Nurit Koren argued Bennett "came to his senses and realized what the public wanted", while MK Sharan Heschel urged everyone to give Bennett and Shaked "a pat on the back", because they "managed to put their egos aside" to save the coalition.

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

"We are in one of the most complicated security situations ever, and in a situation like that you don't overthrow a government, you don't go to elections", Netanyahu said, referring to challenges from Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip and Iran and Hezbollah in the north.

A poll published after the ceasefire found 74 percent of respondents were unhappy with Netanyahu's handling of the escalation with Gaza and its Islamist rulers Hamas, though it also showed his party would still easily win the most seats.

He noted past instances when right-wing governments had called elections that did not turn out as they had hoped. The country has always been eagerly awaiting the attorney general's decision on whether to press charges.

Netanyahu says ‘unnecessary and wrong’ to call snap Israeli polls