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Israel heading for early elections after turbulent week for Netanyahu

Israel will pick a date for early elections on Sunday, a source close to a key minister told CNN, following ...

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 3:40 PM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 3:40 PM

Israel will pick a date for early elections on Sunday, a source close to a key minister told CNN, following a turbulent week for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that saw key government resignations and calls for an early vote.

The decision to call early elections came after crunch talks between Netanyahu and the rightwing Education Minister Naftali Bennett broke down on Friday.

Bennett had threatened to quit the government if he wasn't given the defense portfolio after the resignation of former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday, but Netanyahu rejected Bennett's demands.

After Friday's meeting, the source, who is close to Bennett, told CNN: "There was a need to go to elections as soon as possible, with no possibility of continuing the current government. A date for the elections is expected to be decided on Sunday following a meeting of the coalition party heads."

On Thursday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri also called for early elections.

Bennett's withdrawal from the coalition would leave Netanyahu without the minimum 61 seats needed to govern, making elections inevitable and ending a government that lasted nearly four years.

A spokesman for Netanyahu's Likud party said in a statement after the meeting with Bennett that the Prime Minister would try to stabilize his government on Sunday at the weekly cabinet meeting.

"At the beginning of the week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold conversations with the heads of the coalitions, and he relies on the ministers' responsibility not to make a historic mistake in toppling a right-wing government," the statement said.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed that it's important to make every effort in order to preserve the right-wing government and not to repeat the historical mistake of 1992 when a right-wing government was toppled, raised the left to power and brought the Oslo disaster upon Israel."

A statement released a short time later said Netanyahu had begun those conversations Friday afternoon.

Netanyahu's troubles began Wednesday when Liberman, his hardline Defense Minister, announced his resignation. Liberman had openly opposed a ceasefire reached with Gaza one day earlier that ended the worst 24 hours of fighting since the 2014 war, advocating instead for a harsher blow against Hamas, the militant group that controls the coastal enclave. Liberman called the ceasefire "a capitulation to terror."

From Monday night to Tuesday afternoon, Gaza militants fired some 400 rockets into Israel, while the Israeli military struck more than 100 targets inside Gaza.

Liberman didn't have enough seats to topple the government on his own, but his withdrawal left Netanyahu with a bare minimum 61-seat coalition, allowing other parties to make demands of the Israeli leader.

The sudden vacancy allowed Bennett, leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, to demand the defense portfolio, promising to quit the government if he didn't get it.

On Thursday morning, Kahlon, the Finance Minister, met with Netanyahu and said it was time to call early elections.

In a statement released after the meeting, Kahlon said, "The stability required at this time is not achievable in the present situation, and therefore the responsible act is the establishment of a new, strong and stable government."

Deri, the Interior Minister, echoed his call, increasing pressure on Netanyahu to dissolve the government.

The political turbulence comes as Netanyahu faces criminal investigations that have hit him and his inner circle. Israeli police say they have enough evidence to indict Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two separate investigations. He was questioned as a suspect in a third investigation. Netanyahu has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence, often employing the phrase "There will be nothing because there is nothing."

The criminal investigations have barely damaged the Prime Minister's standing in the polls or his popularity. Polls have repeatedly projected that Netanyahu's Likud party would increase its number of seats if early elections are held.

But the crisis may pose a new challenge for the Israeli leader, since it appears he is being led to call early elections, instead of calling them on his own.

By law, the government must choose an election date within three to five months, making March or May the most likely time for elections. April is unlikely because of Jewish holidays during the month.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749097

Reported Deaths: 13745
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030271775
Lake554211006
Allen41613691
St. Joseph36933564
Hamilton36505416
Elkhart29347459
Tippecanoe22849225
Vanderburgh22540400
Porter19313325
Johnson18386387
Hendricks17583317
Clark13190193
Madison13111344
Vigo12602253
LaPorte12385221
Monroe12152175
Delaware10947197
Howard10250225
Kosciusko9609119
Hancock8541144
Bartholomew8158157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7763180
Grant7227179
Wayne7154201
Boone6911103
Morgan6735141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6205116
Cass5989108
Henry5893108
Dearborn588878
Noble579786
Jackson508374
Shelby500697
Lawrence4727121
Gibson444093
Harrison440473
Clinton439855
DeKalb438585
Montgomery433890
Whitley405642
Huntington402181
Steuben398659
Miami392568
Jasper386254
Knox375690
Putnam371860
Wabash360583
Ripley346470
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Jefferson335685
White329753
Daviess3028100
Wells294881
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284664
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269855
Clay265448
Randolph244683
Washington244534
Jennings235149
Spencer234131
Starke227558
Fountain218347
Sullivan213943
Owen210858
Fulton201542
Jay200832
Carroll193420
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Perry186937
Rush175626
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Franklin170135
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Parke148916
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Blackford136032
Pulaski120047
Newton112636
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton100814
Martin91415
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Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1107047

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1284921459
Cuyahoga1155972204
Hamilton812991245
Montgomery524821040
Summit48339999
Lucas43303817
Butler38901603
Stark33286929
Lorain25641502
Warren24557303
Mahoning22330601
Lake21135385
Clermont20097252
Delaware18817135
Licking16645222
Fairfield16561204
Trumbull16522479
Medina15593270
Greene15252246
Clark14219306
Wood13280197
Portage13226214
Allen11905239
Richland11598211
Miami10835223
Wayne9116222
Columbiana9020230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8649122
Marion8635138
Tuscarawas8633247
Erie8052164
Ashtabula7137179
Hancock6996131
Ross6933161
Geauga6832150
Scioto6528104
Belmont6149174
Union583849
Lawrence5722102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5436125
Darke5415129
Seneca5343126
Washington5308109
Athens523360
Auglaize501587
Mercer487385
Shelby476195
Knox4567112
Madison443765
Ashland435197
Putnam4333103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4033110
Brown401961
Logan387277
Preble3847103
Clinton378466
Ottawa372681
Highland359265
Williams347578
Champaign343658
Guernsey324153
Jackson317354
Perry297150
Morrow291340
Fayette285450
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2698101
Coshocton268359
Van Wert247264
Adams242856
Pike242735
Gallia240450
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll196748
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135839
Harrison113638
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
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