Interior Minister and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri on Sunday evening warned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu against dissolving the Knesset and going to elections, saying that Netanyahu would "bear the consequences" if elections will be held.
“The elections will not save him from the police investigations,” warned Deri, speaking to Channel 2 News.
"It would be unforgivable for anyone to go to elections, we will not be forgiven if we topple the government," he continued. "Until now we did not get involved because the coalition agreement says that the Prime Minister leads any issues regarding communications and the media. Last week we saw that it came out [into the open]. We saw that the Prime Minister and Minister [Moshe Kahlon] did not reach a solution."
"We cannot go to elections. If by Thursday no solution is found, we will gather the party leaders into a room and we will not come out until there is a solution. He shall bear all the consequences if he goes to elections," said Deri.
The comments come amid a dispute between Netanyahu and Kahlon over the formation of the new Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC), which is to replace the current public broadcaster, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), as of April 30.
Previously, Netanyahu had promised to support the creation of the IPBC. However, after he listened to IBA employees on Friday, Netanyahu changed his mind and decided to recant his support for the IPBC.
On Saturday, reports said that Netanyahu was willing to go to elections unless Kahlon agrees to cancel the launch of the IPBC.
Netanyahu, who left for a diplomatic visit in China on Saturday night, addressed the dispute before his departure and said, "The Israeli government exists because of coalition agreements. In our coalition agreement, every party committed to support the Likud's decision on communications issues, including the decision to close the IPBC. The only question was one of budget.”
"This year, the Israel Broadcasting Authority's (IBA) budget was less than what it would cost to open the IPBC, and the IBA is willing to work to make their budget even more efficient. Therefore, there is no budget problem - so why do we need the IPBC?” he added.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid responded to the coalition crisis by saying that the ministers involved "have gone out of their minds. Everything's a deal."
"We deserve a political system that cares. In which the prime minister speaks about a better economy for all of Israel's children and not that he changes his mind for the fifth time if they open or close the corporation. 95 percent of the citizens of Israel don't even know what this corporation is. Some of them even think that it's water corporations," he said at a conference in Netanya.