Israel: early elections expected amid coalition crisis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting this morning with his coalition partner, Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, who has demanded to be appointed the country’s Defense Minister following the resignation of Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman. As we reported on TV7 last night, it remains unclear whether the Prime Minister will accede to Bennett, who currently serves as Israel’s Education Minister, or whether Netanyahu will opt to call for early elections instead – which is a more likely scenario. Bennett’s appointment requires the consent of the more senior coalition-partner, Kulanu Chairman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon who already voiced his opposition.  Furthermore, Chairman of the Ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri seconded Finance Minister Kahlon’s stance and told Prime Minister Netanyahu that elections should be called as soon as possible and that an agreed-upon date must be coordinated with the coalition party chairmen.