Netanyahu in key talks to save coalition as he resists calls for snap polls

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) adjusts his tie as he is accompanied by cabinet secretary Tzachi Braverman (R) while they attend a state memorial ceremony for his late predecessor Golda Meir at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on November 18, 2018. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Israeli PM says elections now would be ‘unnecessary and wrong,’ ahead of what he called last-ditch talks to hold his embattled coalition together

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resisted calls for snap polls on Sunday, saying elections now would be “unnecessary and wrong,” ahead of what he called last-ditch talks to hold his embattled coalition together.

Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition was thrown into crisis on Wednesday after defence minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation over a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal, leading to speculation over whether early elections were inevitable.

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

Key coalition partners say that is unworkable, but elections are not due until November 2019.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resisted calls for snap polls on Sunday, saying elections now would be “unnecessary and wrong,” ahead of what he called last-ditch talks to hold his embattled coalition together.

Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition was thrown into crisis on Wednesday after defence minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation over a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal, leading to speculation over whether early elections were inevitable.

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

Key coalition partners say that is unworkable, but elections are not due until November 2019.

The crisis was set into motion with Lieberman’s resignation on 14 November over the ceasefire a day earlier that ended the worst escalation between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza since a 2014 war.

Lieberman labelled the truce “capitulating to terror” and slammed Netanyahu’s recent decision to allow Qatar to send millions of dollars in aid to the blockaded Palestinian enclave.

Israeli residents of southern communities hit by barrages of rockets from Gaza last week have also staged protests calling for tough action against Hamas, with which Israel has fought three wars since 2008.

Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting every Friday since 30 March as part of the Great March of Return.

The protest campaign calls for an end to the 11-year Israeli blockade on Gaza and for Palestinian refugees’ right of return to the lands that their families fled during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Since the demonstrations began, the Israeli army has killed more than 200 Palestinian protesters and wounded thousands more, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

An Israeli poll published after the ceasefire found 74 percent of respondents were unhappy with Netanyahu’s handling of the escalation with Gaza and Hamas, which governs the besieged enclave, though it also showed his party would still easily win the most seats.

There has long been speculation that the premier may call elections before they are due in 2019, particularly with police having recommended charges against him in two corruption probes.

The attorney general is expected to announce a decision in the coming months whether to pursue charges against him.

Some analysts believe he would be better positioned to combat them with a fresh electoral mandate.

But Netanyahu would want to make such a move at the most advantageous time – not with public attention focused on the Gaza ceasefire.

Source: Middle East Eye

LEAVE A REPLY