Israel Defence Minister’s exit spurs demand for elections

Jerusalem: Key ministers from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet called for fresh elections after Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned following the Israeli government’s decision to call for an Egypt-mediated ceasefire in Gaza.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met Netanyahu and said, “In the current situation, the right thing for the citizens of Israel and the Israeli economy is to go to an election as soon as possible,” according to a statement quoted by The Jerusalem Post.

Interior Minister Arye Deri mirrored Kahlon’s sentiments and called for fresh elections “for the good of the country”.

Offering to coordinate the official dissolution of Knesset (or the unicameral national legislature of Israel), Kahlon further stated that the stability required during “this time” is unattainable due to political uncertainty, labeling holding new elections as the most responsible move in the reigning state of affairs.

Both the ministers are eminent coalition partners in Netanyahu’s cabinet.

The earliest date for fresh elections may be February 19, provided Knesset is dissolved next week. However, the two ministers are aiming to hold elections in March.

Meanwhile, reports state that Netanyahu would wait until May to hold elections.

Education Minister and coalition partner Naftali Bennett, on the other hand, emphasised on his earlier ultimatum to pull out of the coalition if he’s not made the Defence Minister, a move that seems unlikely due to Kahlon and Deri’s calls for fresh elections.

Large-scale violence in Gaza erupted last week when a Hamas military commander along with six other Palestinians was killed in a cross-border operation conducted by the Israeli Special Forces in Gaza on the night of November 11.

Ensuing retaliatory fire saw the launch of over 400 rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, leaving 11 injured on the Israeli side. Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV channel’s main building was decimated in the subsequent exchange before an Egypt-mediated ceasefire was set in place.