Netanyahu, victorious, says coalition to stay intact for another year

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Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday he will not resign from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government despite sharp disagreements.

Speaking at a press conference, Bennett said he had made a decision to "stand by the prime minister's side", and not act on his ultimatum to leave the government.

More ominously, Netanyahu-now acting defense minister-suggested a security crisis was afoot, the exact details of which he couldn't share with the public.

He also spoke of his military experience and said he could not publicly explain in detail the sensitive security moves now being taken by Israel.

The crisis began when the defence minister resigned in opposition to an Israeli ceasefire with Gaza militants.

During a press conference at Israel's Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said it would be wrong and "irresponsible" to bring down the Israeli government and force new elections during "one of our most hard security periods".

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

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is a party member, was present at the conference.

Col. Alon Madanes
Col. Alon Madanes

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. "I took every possible action to ensure the reversal of the agreement and the reimposition of the sanctions, and that's exactly what happened", he said.

The far-right, pro-settler minister had demanded the defence brief but Mr Netanyahu will now serve in that capacity for at least several months.

Liberman's shock resignation left Netanyahu with a very narrow one-seat majority in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and the withdrawal of Bennett's Jewish Home faction would have toppled the government and forced early elections.

Mr Bennett accepted that but called on Mr Netanyahu to be more right-wing in his leadership. He acknowledged that the turnaround could hurt him politically, but said he felt it was in the country's interests to give Netanyahu one last chance.

"We are in a particularly complex security situation.In times like these, you do not overthrow a government. I believe that we need to continue forward, together, for the sake of the state and for the security of Israel". Instead, the left-wing Labor Party swept to power under Yitzhak Rabin and signed a peace accord with the Palestinians, what Netanyahu called the "Oslo disaster".

I would like to say that now when we are witnessing one of the most hard periods in terms of security, we can not topple the government and hold an early election.

"Yesterday I took the position of defense minister".

"We are in a campaign that has not yet ended", Netanyahu told the committee.

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