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Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition safe as education minister relieves pressure

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Israel: Benjamin Netanyahus coalition safe as education minister relieves pressure
Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition safe as education minister relieves pressure. picture-alliance/dpa/AP/A. Schalit
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Pressure appeared to subside on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government on Monday after his education minister vowed to keep his rival political party in a fragile coalition government.

Netanyahu had been 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.

Read more: 'Deal of the century': US pushes Israeli-Palestinian plan

What we know so far:

  • Education Minister Naftali Bennett said he would not quit the coalition government despite Netanyahu's refusal to name him as the new defense minister.

  • Bennett's right-wing Jewish Home party had threatened to quit if Bennett was not named as the defense minister.

  • Bennett's decision came after Netanyahu gave an impassioned speech to the nation on Sunday night. He said he would take over as defense minister and called on coalition partners to stay in the government.

Read more: Is Israel heading for early elections?

More meetings planned

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.

Read more: Little optimism in Middle East conflict, Israeli historian says

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lamp, s/sms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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