Israeli PM Netanyahu names himself defense minister to ‘rule out politics’ from security

09:13 • 19.11.18



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday night that he will take on the post of defense minister following Avigdor Liberman’s resignation, rejected calls for new elections, and said that Israel was in the midst of a military campaign, during which “you don’t play politics.”

During a highly anticipated speech delivered at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, which coincided with Israel’s main nightly news broadcasts, Netanyahu said it would be wrong and “irresponsible” to bring down the government and force new elections during “one of our most difficult security periods”, the Times of Israel reports.


“We are in them midst of a military campaign, and you don’t leave during a campaign, you don’t play with politics,” he said, in a stinging critique of Liberman, who resigned last week, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is threatening to follow suit. “The security of the state is above all else,” Netanyahu said.


In a further dig at Jewish Home chairman Bennett, who has demanded the defense minister’s job as a condition for staying in the coalition, Netanyahu said, “There is no place for politics or personal considerations,” when it comes to Israel’s security.


Bennett has threatened to bring down the government if he is not appointed defense minister. Without the Jewish Home, Netanyahu’s coalition would shrink from 61 seats to just 53 and lose the required majority of the 120-seat Knesset to survive no-confidence motions. Bennett, along with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, are planning to quit the government on Monday morning, according to television reports on Sunday night.


The prime minister said that he was the best person for the defense job and implored his coalition partners to “do the responsible thing for the sake of Israel” and back him.


“So you see that I am making every effort in recent days, every effort, to prevent unnecessary elections,” he said.


Touting his military experience in the Sayeret Matkal elite operations unit and his “years of having ordered many military operations” as prime minister, Netanyahu said that he “knows when to act and what to do” in moments of crisis.

 





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