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Netanyahu's Coalition Intact After Minister Backs Off Withdrawal Threat


Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, left, and Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked gesture as they speak during a press conference at the Knesset, Nov. 19, 2018.

Israel's ruling coalition remained intact Monday after a key minister backed off his threat to withdraw his party from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett had pressured Netanyahu to name him defense minister, but said his Jewish Home party would drop all of its demands and give the prime minister a chance to get Israel "to win again."

The defense chief post became vacant last week with the resignation of Avigdor Lieberman, who was upset that Israel did not respond more forcefully in a flare-up of tensions with militants in the Gaza Strip.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Nov. 18, 2018.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Nov. 18, 2018.

Netanyahu said Sunday he would take on defense duties. He further cautioned that due to the security situation it would be "irresponsible" at this time to send his government into a minority and bring on early elections.

With Bennett's party remaining, the coalition retains its slim majority with 61 of the 120 seats in parliament.

The next regularly scheduled elections are due to take place in November 2019.

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