The Latest: Israeli education minister to stay in government
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the political turmoil in Israel (all times local):
A senior coalition partner in Israel’s government says he will not resign, averting early elections for now.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that his Jewish Home party was giving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu another chance — despite a crisis over the handling of a recent cease-fire with Gaza militants.
Bennett was widely expected to announce his party’s withdrawal from the coalition, which would have stripped Netanyahu of his parliamentary majority and triggered early polls. Analysts had expected elections to be held in March.
Bennett had threatened to bring down the government if he wasn’t appointed defense minister, a portfolio taken by Netanyahu on Sunday.
The coalition crisis was triggered by a botched Israeli raid in Gaza last week that led to intense fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Israel’s prime minister says it would be “irresponsible” to dissolve the government and call early elections.
Benjamin Netanyahu issued the message on Monday, moments before his education minister, Naftali Bennett, was to announce whether he’s pulling his Jewish Home Party out of the coalition.
If Bennett leaves, it would cause the government to collapse and trigger new elections.
Bennett has threatened to withdraw from the coalition to protest a cease-fire reached by Netanyahu last week with Hamas militants. Netanyahu’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, resigned in protest.
Bennett had demanded the defense portfolio as a condition for remaining in the government. But late Sunday, Netanyahu said he would take the job himself.
Netanyahu says he will do whatever is needed to protect the country, regardless of his coalition partners’ decision.