Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Naftali Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu

Minister of Education and Chairman of Habayit Hayehudi Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday morning that he considers running for prime minister against Benjamin Netanyahu, if it turns out that the latter is “playing games with the country and declares early elections to serve his personal interests.”

“We are not a third world country where there are new elections every two years,” Bennett told Army Radio, adding, “I want to tell the public, it’s not right. Going to elections because of personal motives is wrong. If we get there, we would have to reconsider our support for the PM.”

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The future of the Netanyahu coalition government continued to be hazy on Sunday morning, after a nightly meeting between the PM and the leaders of the Haredi coalition partners ended without a resolution. At the same time, the issue that started the crisis, the military draft bill, appears to be resolved, after the Haredim have received a green light from their various Torah sages to reach a compromise.

The problems at this time appear to originate with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) and the prime minister, who continue to demand additional commitments from the Haredim to stay away from any issues of state and religion conflicts – demands that appear to bait the Haredim into walking away from the negotitions, which would inevitably be followed by a declaration of new elections.

Earlier, Bennett told Israel Radio that the crisis in the government is “a fake crisis that can be solved.”

According to Bennett, “It all depends on Netanyahu’s wishes, and the public will not forgive those who would drag it to unnecessary elections.” He added: “We have no obligation to continue this coalition. I will not guarantee our support in advance to anyone, I reserve the right to make the decision when things happen.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Bennett’s second in command at Habayit Hayehudi, postponed the ministerial committee for legislation meeting to Monday – at which point the IDF draft bill will be debated. Both Bennett and Shaked have been insisting for weeks now that a compromise bill is reachable and that the crisis is being driven by outside interests, hinting at PM Netanyahu’s need to blame someone else for his going to new elections ahead of his expected corruption indictments from the Attorney General.

Minister Moshe Kahlon, who is eager to secure the Haredi vote for his budget bill, is expected to be flexible and to support the draft bill even if Liberman opposes it, thus assuring the bill’s majority at the Knesset plenum. The defense minister, eager for a fight with the Haredim in order to expand his circle of voters which has been stagnant in the polls, announced at the end of last week that he would only support a military draft law that was authored by the military.

Just like they do in those third world countries Bennett was talking about.

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