Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to call fresh elections amid growing pressure

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday remained defiant in the face of growing pressure to call fresh elections, saying it would be “irresponsible” to do so at such a critical juncture.

Netanyahu is under pressure to call fresh elections after his defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beitenu party, resigned over a controversial ceasefire deal during one of the worst escalations of violence between Israel and Islamist militants in Gaza.

What we know so far:

-Before his Sunday speech, Netanyahu met with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who leads the center-right Kulanu party, which holds 10 seats in parliament.
-The finance minister’s office said the meeting ended “without results” and that Netanyahu and Kahlon “agreed to meet later in the week.”
-Netanyahu’s coalition government holds a one-seat majority after former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned and took his right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party with him.
-Netanyahu is seeking to solidify his support from other right-of-center parties in his coalition to continue governing, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party.

Defense drama

Netanyahu said he will take over the defense minister’s portfolio. But Education Minister Bennett, who leads the Jewish Home party, which holds eight seats in parliament, made taking over the Defense Ministry a central demand in exchange for his party’s continued political support.

After Netanyahu’s Sunday speech, the Jewish Home party announced it would hold a press conference on Monday.

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