Netanyahu's Top Ministers Call for Elections After Defense Chief's Resignation

Day after Lieberman quits, Finance and Interior ministers tell Netanyahu Israel needs a new government "as soon as possible"

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Kahlon and Netanyahu in Jerusalem, January 2018
Kahlon and Netanyahu in Jerusalem, January 2018Credit: Alex Kolomoisky

Two senior Israeli ministers are calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to opt for early elections, following the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Head of Kulanu Party and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told Netanyahu that the right thing for the citizens and the economy of Israel is to call elections as soon as possible. Interior Minister Arye Dery also called for elections "as soon as possible, for the sake of the country."

The ministers' comments come a day after Defense Minister Lieberman resigned from his post over the Gaza cease-fire, firing the opening salvo of the election season.

In their meeting, Kahlon told Netanyahu the current political situation does not allow for the necessary economic stability, and therefore the responsible thing to do is to form a new, strong and stable government. Kahlon stressed that he is willing to coordinate the move with the rest of the coalition partners.

>> Analysis: Avigdor Lieberman: The Israeli defense minister who never wasBennett's party warns Netanyahu: Give us defense portfolio or we'll quit coalitionHamas hails defense chief's resignation: We caused political earthquake in Israel

Dery echoed Khalon's statements later on Thursday in a meeting with Netanyahu. Deri told the prime minister that he thought Israel ought to go to elections as soon as possible and that an election date should be established with all the different heads of parties.

Earlier on Thursday, Lieberman submitted his resignation letter to Netanyahu, although he said he intended to retake his seat at the Knesset upon resigning as minister.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of the Habayit Hayehudi party, reiterated in her interview on Army Radio Thursday that if Netanyahu does not appoint the party's chairman Naftali Bennett as defense minister, the party will leave the coalition.

Netanyahu and Bennet are slated to meet on Friday morning.

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