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 2:40 PM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 2:40 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 921249

Reported Deaths: 9678
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1797812046
Ramsey744701052
Dakota68081589
Anoka64523585
Washington40846364
Stearns33805283
St. Louis29764413
Scott26116187
Wright26105223
Olmsted22502130
Sherburne19117128
Carver1677569
Clay12183107
Blue Earth1154270
Rice11505139
Crow Wing11275124
Chisago999580
Kandiyohi9861108
Otter Tail9860129
Benton9098126
Beltrami819598
Goodhue816899
Douglas7929101
Itasca777299
Mower736349
McLeod718284
Winona711658
Isanti704785
Steele689234
Morrison675380
Becker630474
Polk606187
Freeborn564847
Carlton549875
Mille Lacs535179
Lyon530961
Nobles526954
Nicollet525661
Pine517943
Cass503253
Todd494143
Brown471760
Le Sueur460534
Meeker435459
Martin388244
Wabasha377410
Waseca375933
Dodge364312
Hubbard356049
Roseau318631
Fillmore307415
Wadena304740
Redwood282145
Houston272417
Renville269851
Faribault259435
Sibley254417
Pennington253430
Kanabec251837
Cottonwood231232
Aitkin223751
Chippewa221242
Pope209410
Watonwan200021
Yellow Medicine189223
Rock178229
Koochiching177825
Swift173423
Stevens169311
Jackson161716
Clearwater158721
Marshall154222
Murray152711
Pipestone150529
Lake133624
Lac qui Parle123525
Wilkin121516
Mahnomen106414
Norman10569
Grant101810
Big Stone9555
Lincoln8885
Kittson73623
Red Lake71610
Traverse6076
Unassigned569124
Lake of the Woods5265
Cook3131

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 527597

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Unassigned18890
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
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Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
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