x

Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Netanyahu says calling Israeli snap polls now would be ‘irresponsible’

Israeli prime minister also said he would retain the defence ministry portfolio for now

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel. AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel. AP

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that calling snap elections now would be “irresponsible” as he vowed to push on despite a crisis in his coalition government.

Speaking in a televised address to the nation, Mr Netanyahu also said he would retain the defence ministry portfolio for now and work to convince his coalition partners to remain in the government.

“To go to elections now would be irresponsible,” Mr Netanyahu said. “The security of the country is above political considerations.”

Education minister Naftali Bennett’s far-right Jewish Home party has threatened to withdraw from the coalition if he is not named defence minister.

Mr Netanyahu spoke of his military experience in his address and said he could not publicly explain the sensitive security moves currently being taken by Israel.

The long-time leader made the appearance as he came under pressure over a ceasefire deal last week that ended the worst escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war.

On Wednesday, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned over the ceasefire, throwing the government into crisis.

After Mr Lieberman’s withdrawal along with his Yisrael Beitenu party, Mr Netanyahu’s government was left with a one-seat majority in the 120-seat parliament.

Mr Netanyahu spoke after a crucial meeting with finance minister Moshe Kahlon on resolving the coalition crisis.

Mr Kahlon’s office said earlier that his meeting with Mr Netanyahu ended without a conclusion but they would meet again later in the week.