Israeli Govt in Crisis as Bennet Promises to Exit Coalition if Not Offered Defence Portfolio

Published November 14th, 2018 - 01:01 GMT
Naftali Bennett may become Israel's new defense minister. (AFP/ File)
Naftali Bennett may become Israel's new defense minister. (AFP/ File)

If Naftali Bennett does not become defense minister, Bayit Yehudi will quit the coalition, party officials said Wednesday after Avigdor Liberman announced his resignation from the post.

The message also came after Likud sources said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to take on the defense portfolio — in addition to the Foreign and Health Ministries that he already heads — and that the coalition can live out its days until the legal election date of November 2019, even after Yisrael Beytenu leaves.

However, the chance that the coalition will survive much longer seemed low in light of the conflicting statements.

With Yisrael Beytenu out, the coalition will be left with only 61 seats even if Netanyahu acquiesces to Bennett’s demand. That leaves the government with a one-vote majority that will be difficult to maintain, especially if highly contested legislation like haredi enlistment goes to a vote.

In addition, several top Likud MKs began jostling for the position of defense minister. Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman and former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter are both thought to be vying for the job. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s office denied that he had made any demands.

Meanwhile, the opposition began working on the assumption that an election is on the way. Zionist Union faction chairman Yoel Hasson called on the coalition to coordinate an election date with his party.

Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay said “good riddance” to Liberman and “Netanyahu should be next. He’s the one who promised to take down Hamas and turned into [Hamas leaders] Haniyeh and Sinwar’s insurance policy.”

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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