Days after cease-fire, Gaza border demonstrations to resume

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon during a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem

The decision was announced on Friday after Netanyahu's meeting with a key far-right coalition partner, Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett, failed to determine Israeli's next military affairs minister. "A date for the elections is expected to be decided on Sunday following a meeting of the coalition party heads".

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, leader of center-right Kulanu party and a major coalition partner, told Netanyahu that snap elections should be called as soon as possible in order to keep the economy on track.

Netanyahu refused Bennett's request to take over departed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's portfolio.

Pressures were mounting on Netanyahu to call for early elections amid turmoil sparked by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman's resignation following an agreed ceasefire with Gaza.

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Netanyahu "stressed the importance of making every effort to preserve the right-wing government and not to repeat the historical mistake of 1992 when the right-wing government was overthrown, the left came into power and brought the Oslo disaster to the State of Israel", according to the Prime Minister's Office.

A source close to Bennett told Reuters that failure to reach an agreement could lead to early elections, as "there was a need to go to elections as soon as possible with no possibility of continuing the current government".

A Cabinet of one: Netanyahu may be the only one who believes he can hold the government together until the original election date next November.

Israel's outgoing defense minister has warned that Hamas is only growing in strength in the blockaded Gaza Strip. If Bennett's eight MPs also leave the coalition, Netanyahu will lose the majority.

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What they're saying: Just like Liberman, Bennett's party wants a harder stance against Hamas and will now likely call for early elections.

Thousands of demonstrators turned out at Gaza's frontier with Israel, an AFP reporter said, but most kept some distance from the border fence rather than seeking to damage or breach it as has been the case in the past. Ultra-orthodox parties agree.

There has always been speculation that Netanyahu would call a general election before its scheduled date of November 2019.

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