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Netanyahu party denies decision to call early Israel polls

AFP , Friday 16 Nov 2018
Israel
File Photo: In this file photo taken on August 30, 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) listens to Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem (Photo: AFP)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party on Friday denied a report he had agreed to call early elections following the resignation of a key partner in his ruling coalition.

A party spokesman said Netanyahu, who was left with a knife-edge majority in parliament after the resignation, held a crunch meeting with Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

"The prime minister told minister Bennett that rumours that a decision has been made to go to elections are not correct," the spokesman said in a statement.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasised the importance of making every effort to preserve the right-wing government".

The statement was issued shortly after a source close to Bennett told AFP the two had agreed that "it would be senseless to continue" with the same coalition.

"They will set a date for elections when they meet with the (other) coalition partners on Sunday," the source said.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman quit Wednesday over a ceasefire deal for Gaza, taking the rest of his hawkish Yisrael Beitenu party with him and leaving the coalition with a single seat majority in parliament.

Bennett, Netanyahu's other main right-wing rival and head of the religious nationalist Jewish Home party, has threatened to quit unless he is given Lieberman's job.

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