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  • Current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu might face an early vote.

    Current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu might face an early vote. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 November 2018

Opposition to Netanyahu's government is now being led by far-right politicians with violent agendas for occupied Palestine.

A source close to a key coalition partner, the ultra-conservative Education Minister Naftali Bennett, reportedly said the date for an early election would be decided Sunday after a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the PM will take over the defense ministry. 

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The announcement was made Friday by a spokesperson for Netanyahu's Likud Paty, after a meeting between the PM and Bennett, of the Jewish Home Party, ended without an agreement. Bennett had previously conditioned his party's support on getting the defense post. 

Israeli media reported that other coalition partners would oppose Bennett's appointment as defense minister.

After the meeting, the PM urged the rest of his coalition partners to "make every effort not to bring down the right-wing government" and to prevent the left from getting into power, the spokesman said.

However, a source close to Bennett said that after his meeting with Netanyahu "it became clear... there was a need to go to elections as soon as possible with no possibility of continuing the current government."

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the centrist Kulanu party, has also called for a vote to be held before the scheduled date next November.

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Despite the Likud's warning, there are no reasons for the far-right in Israel to fear the ascension of the Left. The left-wing in Israel is very weak. Meretz, the only left-wing party that endorses secularism, advocates for equal rights for Palestinians, and opposes the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank did not reach 5 percent of the vote in the 2013 elections. The Joint List, a coalition of anti-Zionist, mostly Arab parties reached 10 percent of the vote.  

According to political analysts, Israel's next elections will hinge on who would apply more violence to the millions of Palestinians living under occupation. 

Netanyahu's right-wing coalition government was rocked by Avigdor Lieberman's resignation Wednesday in protest against a ceasefire reached between Israel and Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Lieberman's far-right Yisrael Beitenu party quit the coalition and its five MPs have withdrawn support for the government.

The PM is also facing calls by Israelis to resign. His response to Gaza was overwhelmingly seen as weak despite the damage caused by Israeli Occupation Forces, including 13 deaths and the destruction of a media outlet in the Strip.  

Netanyahu's coalition had 66 seats in the 120-seat parliament. The loss of Lieberman's five has brought him down to a perilous 61. Losing Bennett's eight means Netanyahu would lose his majority.

Opinion polls show that Netanyahu's Likud would be likely to remain the dominant party after a parliamentary election.

Netanyahu, a conservative serving his fourth term as premier, is under investigation for corruption. Commentators say he may agree to bring the ballot forward in order to win a renewed mandate before the attorney-general decides whether to indict him.

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