Netanyahu’s main coalition partner pushes for early election

President Reuven Rivlin left and Pope Francis meet at the Vatican

President Reuven Rivlin left and Pope Francis meet at the Vatican

Israel is due to hold elections early next year after the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, lost his defence minister and talks broke down in his coalition government on Friday, a source close to the cabinet told the Guardian. The two men have been locked in a tense rivalry, with Bennett often criticizing Netanyahu from the right.

Netanyahu's coalition has 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

The political crisis has been sparked by surging violence in Gaza triggered last weekend when...

On Friday, he toured southern Israel and accused Netanyahu of being soft on terrorism.

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Many believe Netanyahu will not do well in the coming election, especially since a number of Israelis believe he capitulated to terrorists by agreeing to a ceasefire with Hamas.

However, Gaza's Health Ministry said 40 Palestinians were wounded, 18 by live fire from Israeli forces.

The ceasefire announced Tuesday has drawn heavy criticism in Israeli communities near the border that faced barrages of rockets earlier this week.

"The most unsafe thing for the state of Israel is that we begin to think that there is no solution to terrorism, to terrorists, to missiles", he said.

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But on Friday, Hamas kept border protests widely restrained.

"It is the first time in the history of the Palestinian armed struggle that 13 Palestinian armed wings in the Gaza Strip worked together in one joint operation room", said Sinwar, referring to 400 rockets fired in two days into Israel. Witnesses said most of the injuries occurred in stone-throwing incidents at the usual five protest locations.

Sources also reported that up to 1, 500 protesters took part in the mass protest, chanting "Netanyahu is weak in front of Hamas, Bibi resign, Lieberman is looking for a friend", and "Bibi resign, the south is burning", while using Netanyahu's nickname.

Sinwar went on saying that the Israeli blockade that had been imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007 has to be ended, adding that "it will end by the peaceful marches of return, and if not, we have other means and methods to break it". The move was seen as an attempt to defuse tension, but Lieberman also criticized it as yet another measure that will strengthen Hamas.

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