Netanyahu holds last-ditch talks to keep Israeli government together

Netanyahu holds last-ditch talks to keep Israeli government together

Netanyahu holds last-ditch talks to keep Israeli government together

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making what he calls last-ditch efforts to dodge the collapse of his coalition.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned over the ceasefire, throwing the government into crisis and leading to speculation that early elections had become inevitable.

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.

"I advise Israel not to try and test us again", Sinwar, said. "During a period like this you don't go to elections", he said.

Netanyahu's crisis further deepened after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which rules the Tel Aviv-blockaded territory of the Gaza Strip, started to return the Israeli military's back-to-back incursions with rocket fires against the city of Ashkelon in southern Israel.

Lieberman's withdrawal along with his Yisrael Beitenu party depleted the government's parliamentary majority to a one-seat edge in the 120-seat legislature. Two other key coalition partners say that makes governing untenable.

Netanyahu holds last-ditch talks to keep Israeli government together

Kahlon's calls were echoed by Aryeh Deri, head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and by members of the nationalist Jewish Home whose head, Naftali Bennett, asked to succeed Lieberman as defence chief but was turned down by Netanyahu on Friday. He and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also of Jewish Home, are set to deliver a statement to the media Monday.

"If (Netanyahu) pulls a rabbit out of his hat, we'll see", the finance minister, whose centre-right Kulanu party holds 10 seats, told Israeli television Saturday.

Netanyahu cancelled two meetings scheduled for today in order to conduct negotiations created to prevent an early end to his government coalition, cobbled together from five parties, including his own Likud Party. "The meeting between the finance minister and the prime minister ended without results", the spokesman said in a statement. According to government protocol, a deputy minister's term automatically ends with the firing or resignation of the minister above them. Since then, elections have nearly always been moved up because of a coalition crisis or a strategic move by the prime minister to maximise his chances of re-election.

He has come under heavy criticism for agreeing to the Gaza ceasefire, especially from within his own political base and in the working-class, rocket-battered towns in southern Israel that are typically strongholds of his Likud Party.

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.

Despite his high ratings, Netanyahu dreads fresh elections as the corruption probe against him might potentially disqualify him from the vote.

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