Netanyahu coalition safe for now as Education Minister Naftali Bennett withdraws threat to resign over Gaza

He had issued an ultimatum demanding he is appointed Defence Minister


Naftali Bennett has appeared to back down from his ultimatum to bring down the Israeli government, saying he will give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu another chance.

The Israeli Education Minister — a right-wing political rival to the Israeli Prime Minister — had been widely expected to withdraw his Jewish Home party, depriving the coalition of its majority, after Mr Netanyahu declined to appoint him Defence Minister.

The post was vacated last week by Avigdor Lieberman after he resigned in protest over the government’s Gaza strategy.

Mr Netanyahu took the defence portfolio for himself on Sunday.

Mr Bennett’s reversal came hours after Mr Netanyahu urged the remaining members of his coalition to stay in post.

“We are in a particularly complex security situation,” Mr Netanyahu said in a press conference of his own on Sunday evening.

“In times like these, you do not overthrow a government. It’s irresponsible. We have another full year until elections.”

In a press conference on Monday morning, Mr Bennett said: “If the prime minister is serious in his intentions, and I want to believe his words from last night, I am saying here to the prime minister we are removing at this moment all of our political demands and will help you in the huge mission of making Israel win again.”

Analysts said Mr Bennett was also concerned about being considered responsible for bringing down a right-wing government.

Prior to the Education Minister's press conference there had speculation that an early election would be set for March 12 next year.

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