Bennett, Shaked stay in the government despite threats to resign

Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet on Sunday

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the third largest party in the coalition, said on Monday that he and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked would stay on so long as the prime minister addresses Israel's "deep security crisis".

I would like to say that now when we are witnessing one of the most hard periods in terms of security, we can not topple the government and hold an early election.

The crisis was triggered November 14 when Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman quit and pulled his Yisrael Beitenu party's five legislators out of the government, saying it wasn't responding forcefully enough to rockets fired into Israel by Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Since March, Hamas has staged violent riots on the border, launched massive rocket attacks on Israel, and embarked on a near daily arson terror campaign using airborne incendiary devices carried by kites, balloons, and even a bird of prey.

The Defense Minister didn't go alone, but took his whole Yisrael Beitenu party with him, which left the coalition with just a single seat majority in the Israeli parliament.

Following Netanyahu's announcement, the Jewish Home party on Sunday evening said it "does not change anything" regarding its demand that Bennett is made defence chief. According to a Hadashot News poll Saturday, Netanyahu's Likud would remain the dominant party if elections were held today, with its representation stable at 30 seats; Bennett's Jewish Home party would rise slightly to 10 seats and Kahlon's Kulanu would fall from 10 seats to eight.

"We are in one of the most complex security situations and during a period like this, you don't topple a government".

Kahlon's office said earlier that his meeting with Netanyahu ended without a conclusion and they would meet again later in the week.

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"When any illegally constructed balcony in Israel is destroyed within days, the Israeli government is in a panic, afraid to evacuate an illegal Arab outpost-Khan al-Ahmar-despite all the favorable High Court rulings, fearing what they would say about us in Europe, what they would do to us in The Hague", Bennett said.

Netanyahu met Bennett on Friday, but conflicting reports emerged.

Were elections to be held now, Netanyahu's Likud party would still win by a landslide, a survey conducted by Hadashot TV revealed on Wednesday.

Most opinion polls, including those after the crisis began, show Netanyahu easily securing re-election, which would grant him a place in Israeli history as the country's longest serving leader.

But Netanyahu would want to make such a move at the most advantageous time and likely not with public attention focused on the Gaza ceasefire.

Elections now are slated for November 2019, but no Israeli coalition in the past 30 years has served out its term.

The attorney general is expected to decide in the coming months whether to pursue charges against him, and some analysts believe he would be better positioned to combat them with a fresh electoral mandate.

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