Netanyahu, Bennett meet as coalition’s future hangs in balance

After Avigdor Liberman's resignation as defense minister, early elections seem unavoidable.

Netanyahu and Bennett (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu and Bennett
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a decision on the fate of Israel's next general election is inching closer.
The meeting is expected to revolve mainly around the defense minister post which soon-to-be-former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned from this week, taking his Yisrael Beytenu party with him, thereby leaving the coalition with a fragile majority.
Liberman's resignation came a day after Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire following the heaviest barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip Israel has ever seen.
On the same day, Bayit Yehudi chairman Bennett announced that if he would not be appointed defense minister in place of Liberman, his party would leave the coalition as well, which would automatically trigger early elections.
Netanyahu signaled that he might be willing to give in to Bennett's demand, but whether he would do so became seemingly irrelevant on Thursday, after Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon objected to the idea of Bennett becoming defense minister, instead calling for early elections.
“In the current situation, the right thing for the citizens of Israel and the Israeli economy is to go to an election as soon as possible,” Kahlon said in a meeting with Netanyahu.
The stability necessary at this time is unattainable as long as there is political uncertainty, according to Kahlon, and going to an election in order to form a new, strong and stable government would be the most responsible thing to do.
Interior Minister Arye Deri also said on Thursday that elections are the preferable outcome following Liberman’s resignation.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this article.