'70% of Israeli leaders' remarks fake; Netanyahu on top'

AP cameraman shot during Gaza protest

'70% of Israeli leaders' remarks fake; Netanyahu on top'

Israel avoided early elections after a key coalition partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government said on Monday that he would not withdraw his party, keeping the coalition intact despite a crisis triggered by a violent flare-up with Gaza militants.

Netanyahu's coalition was weakened after Minister of Military Affairs Avigdor Lieberman resigned on Wednesday over a ceasefire deal with the Gaza Strip.

Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked backed down after a week in which the Knesset seemed headed for an election, with Avigdor Liberman resigning from the Defense Ministry and pulling Yisrael Beytenu from the coalition, and Bennett immediately demanding to replace him.

Bennett's right-wing Jewish Home party had threatened to quit if Bennett was not named as the defense minister.

Mr Netanyahu took the defence minister's post for himself, meaning he is now serving as Israel's prime minister, foreign minister, defence minister and health minister. He said he would take over as defense minister and called on coalition partners to stay in the government.

After meeting with his Kulanu party Monday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said a coalition with 61 members can not hold.

Instead, Bennett, of the far-right Jewish Home party, said he will give Netanyahu time to correct course on a range of issues, making a snap election less likely. And of course, how can he not blame his coalition partners Lieberman, Kahlon, Bennett and Shaked, all those who in such a complex security period are dealing with politics with personal considerations.

Elections now are slated for November 2019, but no Israeli coalition in the past 30 years has served out its term.

In his own address, Bennett said he wants to believe that Netanyahu was serious about the threats facing Israel.

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What was hinted to us over the last week, the prime minister said unequivocally yesterday: We are going to war; and it will happen soon.

"Meanwhile, I don't see a rabbit or a hat".

"There is no more government and we are heading towards elections", he said.

However, Bennett did express some doubts about Netanyahu's true intentions.

The crisis was set into motion with Lieberman's resignation over the ceasefire, which he labelled "capitulating to terror".

Gaza-based Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said Sunday at a memorial service for terrorist fighters killed last week during a clash with IDF soldiers that despite the agreement with Israel worked out by Egypt, Hamas "would not sell its blood for diesel and dollars".

A poll published after the ceasefire found 74 percent of respondents were unhappy with Netanyahu's handling of the escalation with Gaza and its Islamist rulers Hamas, though it also showed his party would still easily win the most seats.

The polls come two days after Hadashot TV aired the results of a Saturday night poll showing that 53% of Israelis felt the political situation warranted early elections, while 32% felt it did not, with 15% responding that they did not know.

Though Netanyahu has been reportedly flirting with the idea of moving up elections himself in recent months, the current timing is not ideal for him.

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