Jewish Home party: Give our man defense portfolio or we walk

The Jewish Home party threatens to leave the coalition if its leader Naftali Bennett doesn’t get the defense portfolio.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The ink was barely dry on outgoing Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation when the Jewish Home party demanded that its head, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, be given the defense portfolio or the party will bolt the coalition, forcing early elections.

On Wednesday night, the Jewish Home Party threw weight behind Bennett’s ultimatum, voting unanimously on a resolution demanding the top defense post for their leader.

The faction said it wanted their man running the ministry of defense “in order to change the security policy and reestablish Israel’s initiative and deterrence. A government without deterrence isn’t a right-wing government. If we don’t receive the authority for the national mission to change the security situation together with the prime minister, we have no taste for continuing in the government.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home Party told IDF Army Radio on Thursday morning said, “If the prime minister doesn’t appoint Bennett as minister of defense, from the standpoint of the Jewish Home, we need to establish an election date. The prime minister needs to decide if he wants a government until November 2019 or to go to elections now.”

“If we’re going to stay till the end, then the right thing to do is to give Bennett that defense portfolio and to continue another year,” she said.

Bennett has had his sights set on the ministry of defense for some time, attacking Liberman repeatedly for his handling of terrorism coming out of the Gaza Strip.

Liberman announced his resignation at a press conference yesterday. He cited as his reason the government’s failure to deal more aggressively with Hamas. He said Israel’s ceasefire with the radical Islamist organization was “a capitulation to terror.”