Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s political stalwart, survives another day

Bennett Kahlon say early election inevitable Netanyahu plans to stop

Amid mounting uncertainty surrounding possible early elections, a politically charged Sunday was supposed to end with a fraught meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who had voiced his support for dissolving the Knesset and calling early elections at this time.

"If Netanyahu was serious in his speech [on Sunday] about dealing with security issues, we will give him a chance and we will remove all of our demands and we will stay in the government", Bennett said. "During a period like this, you don't go to elections", he said.

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.

Netanyahu referred to Lieberman's resignation and to the Israeli Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, who threatened to bring down the Israeli government if he is not appointed as defense minister.

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Bennett, in a surprise u-turn, climbed down from his threat after reports swirled that he and justice minister Ayelet Shaked, both members of the religious nationalist Jewish Home party, were set to announce their resignation and pull their faction from Netanyahu's government, triggering early elections. We have an entire year before the [scheduled] elections, and we are now in the middle of war-you don't walk away in the middle of a war. But late Sunday, Netanyahu said he would take the job himself.

Netanyahu said he had spoken to the leaders of the coalition parties and told them that now was the time to "show responsibility".

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. According to a poll released last Wednesday, 74 percent of the public is unhappy with the government's handling of the crisis.

If so, he said, "I say here to the prime minister: "We are withdrawing all our political demands and we will stand by you in this mighty task, so that Israel starts winning again". The ship called Israel sailed one a bad direction in the last decade.

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Analysts had expected elections to be held in March. "We must not repeat those mistakes", he implored his political base. "It's better that Netanyahu beat me in politics than [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh beat Israel in the battlefield".

By the "Oslo disaster" he meant the initiation of the historic yet fruitless peace process with Palestine after secret talks in the Norwegian capital in 1993 under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Shaked also pointed out that Netanyahu had promised Bennett the defense portfolio before the 2015 election, and backed down from that when Bayit Yehudi received fewer seats than the polls had predicted. "At a time like this one does not bring down the government".

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