Holding an early election could have disastrous results, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Sunday, even as his coalition partners continued to insist it was unavoidable.
“In a sensitive period for our security, we don’t need [an early election] and we know what happens when elements in a right-wing government led to the government being toppled, like in 1992 and in 1999, which brought us the disaster of Oslo and the disaster of the [Second] Intifada,” Netanyahu said at the opening of a cabinet meeting.
In 1992, Yitzhak Shamir was voted out of office and replaced by Yitzhak Rabin, and in 1999 it was Netanyahu who was followed by Ehud Barak as prime minister.
Netanyahu’s comments continued on a theme the Likud began on Thursday, warning coalition partners of the dangers of bringing about an early election.
The prime minister plans to meet with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Sunday evening. Kahlon was the first to call for an early election after Avigdor Liberman resigned from the Defense Ministry
and pulled his Yisrael Beytenu party from the coalition.
The cabinet is expected to vote on increasing pensions for police officers, along with NIS 22bn. in cuts across all ministries to pay for the raise, to which several ministers expressed opposition. Some see the cuts as an attempt to convince Kahlon to remain in the coalition, in that police officers would vote for his Kulanu party because of the new policy.
However, some in the coalition said an election would be inevitable.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said “at this point the government is no longer right wing.
“We did what we could,” she added, listing achievements for her party such as appointing conservative judges and the law retroactively legalizing outposts, “but it is clear that what we need to do will not get done under this government.”
On Shaked’s to-do list were dismantling Khan al-Ahmar, an illegal Beduin outpost in the West Bank, deporting migrants, and passing a law to allow the Knesset to circumvent High Court decisions.
However, Shaked brought up the Bayit Yehudi’s ultimatum that party leader Education Minister Naftali Bennett be made defense minister as the only justification for the government to continue to function until its legal end of term in November 2019.
“Bennett will revolutionize our security and bring Israel’s deterrence back, which was lost under Liberman in the past two years, and will help save us from a deep crisis of faith in our security. Without that, this government is called right-wing, but in practicality is fulfilling left-wing policies. The public is sick of voting for the right and getting left,” she said, repeating a slogan Bennett had said in media interviews the night before.
Even Netanyahu all coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud) expressed skepticism that the government could be salvaged.
“We have a [right-wing] government that could continue for another year,” Amsalem said. “The prime minister will meet with the finance minister to day, but personally, I think these talks have no chance.”
Amsalem blamed Bennett for the deterioration in the coalition.
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