Speaking at a Monday press-conference along with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who sought to replace Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister, said that neither he, nor Shaked would resign despite the previous threats.
At the same time, he stressed that the responsibility for solving security problems was on Netanyahu’s shoulders:
“I tell the prime minister here: we are withdrawing right now all of our political demands and will stand to help you in this great mission of getting Israel to win again. […] The ball is in the prime minister’s court,” he said.
Bennett, who is the leader of the right-wing Bayit Yehudi party, further lambasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the security situation in the country.
“Israel is in a serious crisis of confidence. The problem is not our enemies, but ourselves. Something bad is happening on the inside, including during the last decade in Netanyahu’s governments – the state of Israel stopped winning. I saw that with my own eyes during Second Lebanon War, I saw the mortification and the confusion, the lack of determination, I saw the lack of spirit,” Bennett said.
Previously, Bennett and his party threatened to leave the ruling coalition if he didn’t receive the defense role after Lieberman’s resignation.
In a Sunday statement, Netanyahu called on the rest of his coalition partners, who have been calling for early elections following the resignation of Lieberman, not to dissolve the government. He also added that he would temporarily take on the role of defense minister:
“Today, I take on for the first time the position of defense minister. We are in one of the most complex security situations and during a period like this, you don’t topple a government. During a period like this, you don’t go to elections,” he said.
His speech came shortly after Lieberman and all five MPs of his Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party left the ruling coalition following Netanyahu’s agreement to a ceasefire with Hamas militants that put an end to the latest surge in violence in Gaza.
The resignations mean that the ruling coalition now has 61 of 120 seats in the parliament (Knesset), prompting some MPs to vote for early polls, which may be held three months after the dissolution of the government.
Last week, Hamas announced an Egypt-brokered ceasefire with Israel to halt escalating hostilities, which resumed after Palestinian militants launched rockets at Israel in retaliation for seven militants killed during an Israeli special forces operation.
Prior to the announcement, the Israeli military claimed that it had detected about 460 rocket launches by Palestinian militants from Gaza, intercepting more than a hundred projectiles. In response, the IDF conducted several attacks on various Hamas targets, including militant bases, underground tunnels, and the headquarters of the internal security service.
Contributed by Sputnik News