Early Elections Avoided in Israel after Coalition Crisis Eases

Early Elections Avoided in Israel after Coalition Crisis Eases

Early Elections Avoided in Israel after Coalition Crisis Eases

There had been speculation that Bennett, an ultranationalist and head of the Jewish Home party, and his deputy, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, would follow Liberman's lead and resign from the government.

In a live 10-minute address timed for the main evening television news broadcasts, Netanyahu drew on his military record and political clout to try to prevent early elections, listing his accomplishments in what commentators described as a pre-emptive campaign pitch.

Nobel Prize-winning advice: Bennett said that as he was contemplating whether to resign, he got a call Sunday night from his friend Robert Aumann, victor of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in game theory analysis.

"Israel's politics is in the hands of Hamas", he said.

Although Bennett retracted his demand to become Defence Minister, opposition parties still planned to file a motion of no-confidence in the Government tomorrow.

He acknowledged the backlash he may face for backing down from the earlier ultimatum. "We find ourselves in one of the most complex security periods".

Bennett threatened a withdraw late Sunday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would be taking over as Israel's defense minister, following the departure of former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "I told them that they must not repeat the mistake of 1999 when factions within the government brought it down and it was replaced with a government that brought us the Intifada".

Bennett called for its demolition in his statement, despite an global outcry against razing the strategically located village.

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Mr Bennett's shift comes after Mr Netanyahu, in a prime-time speech on Sunday night, said he would not make Mr Bennett defence minister.

His resignation left the coalition with 61 members in the 120-seat parliament, making it likely to collapse if another party decides to quit.

At the same time, he accused Netanyahu of leading a defeatist defence policy.

"If 75 percent of what they say is just not true, and the established media continues to serve this institution known as "press release" and to be the government's mouthpiece - we're in real trouble".

"When Israel wants to win, we'll go back to winning".

MR NAFTALI BENNETT, Israel's Education Minister, alluding yesterday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promises of a stern response to any attacks on Israel.

Many analysts question the wisdom of starting another war in the Gaza Strip without a strategy for how it will end.

Many analysts believe Netanyahu would like to buy more time before heading toward elections, to allow him to move on from the Gaza ceasefire.

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