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Friday 20 September 2019

Boost for Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu as key ally stays in coalition

Naftali Bennett’s decision to remain in the cabinet came amid calls for an early election.

File photo of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, sitting with education minister Naftali Bennett (Abir Sultan/AP)
File photo of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, sitting with education minister Naftali Bennett (Abir Sultan/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

A senior coalition partner in Israel’s government has said he will not resign, averting early elections for now.

The country’s education minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that his Jewish Home party was giving Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu another chance.

His decision comes despite a crisis over the handling of a recent ceasefire with Gaza militants.

Mr Bennett was widely expected to announce his party’s withdrawal from the coalition, which would have stripped Mr Netanyahu of his parliamentary majority and triggered early polls.

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Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet on Sunday (Abir Sultan/AP)

Analysts had expected elections to be held in March.

Mr Bennett had threatened to bring down the government if he was not appointed defence minister, a portfolio taken by Mr 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.

Mr Netanyahu’s decision to approve a ceasefire sparked anger with coalition partner Avigdor Lieberman, seen as a hardliner, quitting as defence minister.

PA Media

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