Netanyahu makes last-ditch attempt to stave off early elections

Benjamin Netanyahu will meet a second time with his minister of finance to stave off early elections.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet a second time with Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon on Sunday evening in one last attempt to stave off early elections.

Kahlon, who is also the head of the Kulanu Party, which represents 10 seats in the governing coalition, said Thursday that the government should go to elections as soon as possible, following Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation on Wednesday.

Netanyahu will try to convince Kahlon to reverse his position and support the continuation of the coalition government, who ruling majority has been reduced to a slender 61 seats of 120 in Israel’s parliament.

Kahlon and Naftali Bennett, education minister and head of the Jewish Home Party, spoke yesterday and agreed that if Netanyahu can’t find a creative solution to the crisis today, they will vote on Wednesday for dissolving the Knesset, Army Radio reported Sunday.

Netanyahu cancelled two meetings scheduled for today in order to conduct negotiations designed to prevent an early end to his government coalition, cobbled together from five parties, including his own Likud Party.

The prime minister appeared to hang responsibility for keeping the coalition together on Kahlon, tweeting Saturday that he would meet with Kahlon today: “In one last attempt to convince him not to bring down the government. If the Kulanu faction won’t bring down the government — there’s a government. … All the members of the Likud faction are interested in continuing to serve the state another full year, until the end of the term in November 2019.”

Early reports said that Kahlon’s opposition to Bennett’s candidacy for defense minister is the reason the coalition is in crisis, but Kahlon denied those reports, saying he has no problem with Bennett serving in the position. “Anyone Netanyahu decides upon for the position of defense minister is acceptable to me,” Kahlon said.

In an interview with Meet the Press on Israel’s Channel 13, Kahlon also denied that he was motivated by personal political reasons, citing his concerns for Israel’s economy.

Regarding the coming meeting with Netanyahu and his chances to continue in the government, Kahlon said that “if he pulls a rabbit out of a hat, we’ll see. In the meantime, I haven’t seen a rabbit or a hat.”

The meeting between Netanyahu and Kahlon is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sunday.