Netanyahu Cancels Visit to Austrian anti-Semitism Conference

Cancellation comes amid Israeli ministers' calls for new elections following defense minister's resignation

Netanyahu attends an annual state memorial ceremony for Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, Sde Boker, Israel, November 14, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday cancelled his upcoming visit to Austria, as top ministers called for early elections following the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The prime minister was slated to participate in an international conference in Vienna focused on combatting anti-Semitism next week, alongside Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Netanyahu's visit was set to be the first by an Israeli prime minister since his previous one, in 1997. Kurz announced Netanyahu's participation last week in a tweet.

>> Netanyahu's dilemma: Surrender to his arch-nemesis or be forcefully dragged into elections | Analysis ■ A left-wing stance on Gaza? More like incompetence | Opinion

The conference on November 20 and 21 will bring together representatives from EU member countries, as well as American and European Jewish organizations.

Earlier Thursday, Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Interior Minister Aryeh Dery called for election "as soon as possible."

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