Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought to save his tottering government after his defense minister’s resignation, pinning his hopes on a crucial meeting Sunday with a wavering coalition ally. Netanyahu is set to meet with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who has urged the prime minister to go for early elections after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s departure last week left the government in control of just 61 out of 120 parliamentary seats. It’s not possible to govern with such a narrow coalition, which will be subject to constant pressures from its partners, Kahlon said in an interview Saturday on Hadashot News. Still, he said he would keep an open mind for Sunday’s meeting with Netanyahu. “Maybe he’ll pull a rabbit out of his hat,” Kahlon said. “Although for a long time it seems there has been no rabbit and no hat.”
The coalition was thrown into turmoil when Liberman resigned and pulled his Yisrael Beitenu party’s five legislators out of the government, saying Netanyahu wasn’t responding forcefully enough to rockets fired into Israel by Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who also urges a harsher line on Gaza, demanded the defense portfolio after Liberman left. In a meeting Friday, Netanyahu said he would keep the defense portfolio for himself for now, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.