PM Netanyahu steps up efforts to avert snap elections

“This is a sensitive time, security-wise and we shouldn’t ‎call for [early] elections”

There is no reason to call for snap elections at this sensitive time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday. ‎

Speaking of his efforts to avert early elections, Netanyahu said, “Over ‎the past few days, I have spoken with all the coalition faction ‎leaders, and this evening I will meet with Finance Minister [and Kulanu party head Moshe] ‎Kahlon. This is a sensitive time, security-wise and we shouldn’t ‎call for [early] elections. ‎

‎”We all know what happened in 1992 and 1999, which brought ‎about the Oslo disaster and the catastrophe of the Intifada,” he ‎said, referring to elections when a right-wing government lost power to ‎the Left. ‎

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu canceled the weekly coalition heads’ meeting, during which they coordinate the coalition’s agenda in the Knesset and in the government.

While Netanyahu continues to insist he wants to try to stabilize his fractured coalition following the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week, Kahlon and Habayit Hayhudi leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said over the weekend that the die has essentially been cast and election season will officially begin soon.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) expressed support for dissolving the government and reiterated her party’s demand that to avoid that, Bennett must be named defense minister.

“The only justification for this government’s continued existence until November 2019 [when elections fall due] is having Bennett revolutionize security and restore Israel’s deterrence, which was lost under Lieberman. He [Bennett] can help alleviate the [public’s] deep crisis of confidence in security. Without that, this is a government that calls itself ‘rightist,’ but carries out left-wing policies,” she said.

Netanyahu and Kahlon were expected to meet Sunday morning in a last-ditch effort to stave off early elections, but the meeting was postponed to the evening. Some ministers were quoted over the weekend as saying they favor elections as early as this March.

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