Israel's Netanyahu makes 'last effort' to save government

Bennett Kahlon say early election inevitable Netanyahu plans to stop

Netanyahu's meeting on Sunday with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, a key coalition partner who has also pushed for early elections, was seen as a last attempt to prevent the collapse of the coalition - which now has a one-seat majority in parliament - but ended with no conclusion.

Tuesday's ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has been criticized widely by lawmakers from across the political spectrum, while Israeli residents in the Gaza border communities took to the streets to demonstrate against Netanyahu accusing his government of failing to protect them as they come under rocket bombardment time and time again.

But the release date is now likely to be influenced by the political crisis in Israel that has expected to spark early elections, Axios reported, citing unnamed US officials. Bennett, a key coalition partner and one of Netanyahu's main right-wing rivals, announced he would give his own statement on Monday morning.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken over as Defence Minister.

"We need to do everything we can to prevent repeating these mistakes", he added.

"We will defeat our enemies and I do not minimise the challenges that are facing us", he said, speaking from Israel's defence headquarters in Tel Aviv. His Yisrael Beiteinu party has also quit the governing coalition, and its five MPs have withdrawn support for the government, reducing the 66 seats that Netanyahu's coalition had to 61.

Following Netanyahu's announcement, the Jewish Home party on Sunday evening said it "does not change anything" regarding its demand that Bennett is made defence chief.

Netanyahu is trying to convince them to stay, and his Likud allies are already preparing to pin the blame on them if that effort fails.

Mr Bennett had said he would pull his party out unless he was appointed the new minister of defence.

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Meanwhile, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, another senior partner, said another year of such instability will harm the economy.

He also held the weekly cabinet meeting as usual. Kahlon says he believes it is not possible to continue with the existing coalition.

On Saturday, Bennett, whose party has eight seats, told Israeli television that Lieberman had "collapsed the government".

Netanyahu met Bennett on Friday, but conflicting reports emerged. "The two agreed to meet later in the week".

Were elections to be held now, Netanyahu's Likud party would still win by a landslide, a survey conducted by Hadashot TV revealed on Wednesday. When a truce was reached through United Nations and Egyptian mediation on Tuesday, Lieberman blasted the deal as "capitulation to terror" and quit.

A week ago, Israel and Hamas were on the brink of a large-scale conflict after Hamas fired more than 400 rockets and mortars at Israel, while the IDF retaliated by sending its warplanes to bomb around a hundred sites in Gaza.

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

Elections are not due until November 2019.

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. Only 17 percent of respondents were happy with Netanyahu's Gaza policy.

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