Netanyahu takes on defence post amid call for early polls

AP cameraman shot during Gaza protest

Following the political storm in recent days, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trying to prevent the coalition's dissolution, the ministers in the Habayit Hayehudi party have announced their support for the prime minister.

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.

The enemies are the same, Bennett said, and "the security situation today is not more risky than what it was a few months ago, when the prime minister sought to bring down his government for political reasons, or because of the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC)".

Naftali Bennett, the education minister of the far-right Jewish Home party, which holds eight seats in parliament, has demanded the defence portfolio as a way of keeping the government together.

Israeli media has reported that other coalition partners would oppose Bennett's ambitions of becoming the defense minister.

After Lieberman's withdrawal along with his Yisrael Beitenu party, Netanyahu's government was left clinging to a one-seat majority in the 120-seat parliament. Bennett and Kahlon both said they expect elections to produce another conservative government under Netanyahu.

"The security of the country is above political considerations", Netanyahu said while insisting that calling elections now would be "irresponsible".

"The meeting between the finance minister and the prime minister ended without results", the spokesman said in a statement.

Kahlon said before his meeting with Netanyahu that he did not think it was possible to continue with the existing coalition.

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President Donald Trump will reportedly meet this week with his top national security and foreign policy advisers to talk about the details and release of its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The sudden coalition crisis was triggered by a botched undercover Israeli raid in Gaza last week that led to the most violent fighting between Israel and Gaza militants since a 2014 war.

The crisis was set into motion with Lieberman's resignation over the ceasefire, which he labelled "capitulating to terror".

Most opinion polls, including those after the crisis began, show Netanyahu easily securing re-election, which would grant him a place in Israeli history as the country's longest serving leader.

Elections now are slated for November 2019, but no Israeli coalition in the past 30 years has served out its term.

The research found that Netanyahu's false remarks on Iran were considered as credible by 88 percent of readers and viewers in Israel.

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

The attorney general is expected to decide in the coming months whether to pursue charges against him, and some analysts believe he would be better positioned to combat them with a fresh electoral mandate.

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