UPDATED 9:31 AM PT — Tues. Nov. 20, 2018
Israel is narrowly avoiding a coalition crisis as Education Minister Naftali Bennett backs off of a threat to pull his Jewish Home party from the government.
Bennett threatened a withdraw late Sunday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would be taking over as Israel’s defense minister, following the departure of former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
“If the prime minister is serious, and I want to believe his words last night, then I say here to the prime minister: we are withdrawing all our political demands and we will stand by you in this mighty task so that Israel starts winning again,” stated Bennett.
Had he withdrawn his party, a snap election would have been likely.
Netanyahu’s party still holds a slim majority — 61 of 120 seats — in Israel’s parliament as the prime minister has been scrambling to prevent a government collapse.
Netanyahu has also faced push-back on what has been viewed by some as a “lenient” approach to increasing violence with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip as both Bennett and Lieberman called for a tougher response.
Some citizens of Israel have also been publicly vocal about their disappointment in the prime minister’s decisions.
All of this is heading into the 2019 Israel elections, and the question of whether or not Netanyahu can keep control.
“We are in the midst of a campaign that is not over yet,” stated the Israel prime minister. “In such a security-sensitive time, it’s irresponsible to bring down the government.”
Uncertainty in the future of the government has introduced uncertainty into a Trump administration-led peace plan, which was to be introduced in February to begin discussions.
Reports have indicated U.S. officials don’t want to add potential obstacles into Netanyahu’s future as prime minister as he heads into another election. Netanyahu has won three successive elections since 2009 and is favored to win again in 2019.
Members of the Trump administration — including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner — are slated to meet with the president to discuss the Israel-Palestine peace plan and the timing for its release.