'70% of Israeli leaders' remarks fake; Netanyahu on top'

Marsha Scott
November 20, 2018

Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government appears to have survived a major political crisis after one of his coalition partners backed down from threats to bring down the government and trigger early elections.

His right-wing coalition partners had pushed hard for a new operation in Gaza to stop border protests and incendiary devices crossing into Israeli territory, with the defence minister resigning and painting Mr Netanyahu as weak on security. Bennett threatened to bolt the government if he wasn't named defense minister, a post Netanyahu said Sunday he was taking over himself.

Prior to the press conference, Netanyahu met with his finance minister Moshe Kahlon, head of the Kulanu party to try and persuade him to remain in the coalition.

The crisis was triggered November 14 when Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman quit and pulled his Yisrael Beitenu party's five legislators out of the government, saying it wasn't responding forcefully enough to rockets fired into Israel by Palestinian militants in Gaza. "I saw the confusion, I saw the bewilderment, I saw the lack of determination, and the absence of morale".

For Shamir, Netanyahu's long history of involvement in Israel's foreign and security affairs will "at least for the coming months, fill the void" and will not have a negative effect on the defense establishment, as long as he has a competent deputy who is not chosen due to political considerations. The view in Israel on Monday morning was that Mr Netanyahu's speech on Sunday night, delivered at the same time as the main network broadcasts, was the start of an inevitable election campaign.

In what some are calling a surprise move, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked decided not to resign from the government as they'd indicated earlier.

Netanyahu said he is "pleased the efforts bore fruit", adding: "We have a whole year until the election".

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If Bennett leaves, it would cause the government to collapse and trigger new elections.

While the move put off early elections for now, it keeps the governing coalition on shaky ground with only a slim 61-seat majority in Israel's 120-seat parliament. "We are in the middle of a military campaign, and you don't abandon a campaign to play politics", Netanyahu said.

Bennett said that "if the prime minister is true to his words, and I want to believe that he will be, then we will stand by his side".

Within minutes, a statement from Netanyahu's Likud said that was wrong.

In defending his conduct, however, Netanyahu said that the public was not privy to all elements of the current security situation and defended his security credentials as he sought to hit back at criticism of last week's controversial ceasefire that ended the worst escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war.

"From my experience, I am telling you that we are in one of the most complex security situations and during a period like this, you don't topple a government".

According to Einat Wilf, a former member of the Knesset and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Mr Bennett fears that with the large overlap between their parties' bases, voters would have prioritised Mr Netanyahu's survival over strengthening Jewish Home.

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Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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