PM Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the nation from the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90) (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Netanyahu

Netanyahu’s government has dodged another bullet and will maintain a slim coalition of 61 MKs after Bennett backed down from his demand to become defense minister.

By: Adina Katz, World Israel News

Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party were expected to announce their resignation Monday morning, leaving the coalition government with less than a majority and making early elections inevitable. Instead, they backed down but called for a change in government policy.

Bennett, who serves as education minister, had demanded the defense ministry after Avigdor Liberman’s resignation last week, threatening to remove his party from the coalition if Netanyahu does not comply.

Without Bennett as defense minister, “this government is called right-wing but in practice fulfills left-wing policy,” Shaked stated Sunday.

Bennett blasted government policy over the past several years, which, he said, has “stopped winning wars” and defeating its enemies, instead focusing on Israel’s public image.

Shaked, who spoke after Bennett, concurred with the party chair’s statement that the government had given up on finding a meaningful solution to the terror from Gaza.

Acknowledging that his move could hurt him politically, Bennett said, “You win some, you lose some,” saying that doing what’s best for the country takes priority.

Netanyahu: ‘Show Responsibility!’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an address to the nation the previous evening, said he had spoken to the leaders of the coalition parties, urging them to “show responsibility” and not necessitate new elections during a military campaign, referring to the conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

“I told them not to bring down the government, especially at such a sensitive time from a security perspective,” Netanyahu said. “I told them they must not repeat the mistake of 1992 when a Likud government was brought down and replaced with a government that brought us the Oslo disaster. 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.”

The prime minister also appointed himself defense minister.

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