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Israel’s Netanyahu says early election need to be avoided

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday he wanted his government to fulfil its term, putting the onus of triggering an expected early election onto a coalition partner.

Netanyahu has faced calls from his coalition members to carry a piece of cake election as soon as the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday.

Lieberman quit over what he described as the government’s too-soft policy with an upsurge of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants during the Gaza Strip, leaving the costa rica government by using a razor-thin majority.

Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the centrist Kulanu party, was the main coalition partner to call on an early election after meeting Netanyahu on Thursday.

Kahlon’s calls were echoed by Aryeh Deri, head in the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and by men and women the nationalist Jewish Home whose head, Naftali Bennett, motivated to succeed Lieberman as defense chief but was refused by Netanyahu on Friday.

The diminished Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu faction leaves Netanyahu with control over just 61 from the 120 seats in parliament. All of the remaining government factions presently has the electricity to effectively dissolve the coalition.

Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party asserted that he will probably meet Kahlon on Sunday “from a last try and convince him not to minimize the govt.”

“In the event the Kulanu faction doesn’t bring government entities down – we have a government,” Netanyahu said on Twitter. “All Likud members want to keep serving the region for an additional whole year ’till the end with the term in November 2019.”

“That kind of spin doesn’t work towards me,” Kahlon said in reply on Hadashot television news. “It’s impossible to own a coalition with sixty-one Knesset members.

Analysts see an early election to be a done deal, with Netanyahu and ministers wanting to pin responsibility for bringing government entities documented on oneself so as not to lose favor using their right-wing voter base.

“We’re heading for an election – there is not any government,” Bennett told Israel’s Satisfy the Press on Saturday. “There’s a blame-game being fought on that happen to be the only one to pronounce it dead.”

Netanyahu is under investigation in a selection of corruption cases, and there is speculation that he should bring the ballot to win a renewed mandate while Israel’s attorney-general decides whether they should call indict him.

Both Lieberman and Bennett compete with Netanyahu’s Likud for right-wing voters and still have spoken favoring the use of harsh Israeli military action against Gaza’s dominant Hamas Islamists.

A poll published on Wednesday by Hadashot showed Likud falling by one seat from 30 to 29 after months of polls that contain shown it gaining power. Only 17 % of respondents were pleased with Netanyahu’s Gaza policy.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Ros Russell)

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