Photo Credit: Hadas Parush / Flash 90
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (R) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he is not willing to accept Bayit Yehudi party chairman Naftali Bennett as a replacement for former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Bennett is currently holding the Education and Diaspora Affairs portfolios. His party has demanded that he be given the Defense portfolio, and is threatening to leave the coalition and bring down the government if Netanyahu does not comply.

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Liberman resigned from the government on Wednesday, citing his inability to accept the government’s agreement to the ceasefire arrangement with Hamas in the wake of hostilities that saw the terror group fire more than 460 rockets, missiles and mortar shells at southern Israeli civilians earlier this week.

Both Kahlon and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Sephardic Shas party) called Thursday for new elections.

Netanyahu has met with a number of the coalition members to determine whether it would be best to hold the elections in May or in March.

However, the date may be determined by whether Bennett decides to step down next: if he is denied the defense portfolio and his party pulls out of the coalition in response, Netanyahu will no longer hold a parliamentary majority, and thus new elections will become mandatory.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.