Bennett delivering remarks at party meeting
Bennett delivering remarks at party meetingFlash 90

Education Minister and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett escalated his rhetoric against Prime Minister Netanyahu, hinting that he would challenge Netanyahu for the prime minister's position if he decided to hold a snap election "for his own personal needs".

"We are not a third world country where there are new elections every two years," Bennett told Army Radio on Sunday. "I want to tell the country that new elections are pointless."

"Holding elections for someone's personal benefit isn't right," added Bennett. "If we go there than we will have to reconsider backing the prime minister".

Earlier on Sunday, Bennett accused Netanyahu of creating a "fake crisis" with the haredi parties in order to topple the government and hold early elections that would be beneficial to him because of his rise in popularity according to recent polls. "This is a fictitious crisis that can be solved, everything depends on Netanyahu's wishes, and the public will not forgive anyone that causes early elections," Bennett told Kan.

Bennett's remarks echo statements he made to Arutz Sheva last week criticising Netanyahu for what he said was his refusal to hammer out a compromise with the various coalition parties that would stabilize the coalition.

"We are trying to solve this fake crisis, which has no basis. All we need to do is to bring forward an upgraded law, not a basic law, but the question is what Netanyahu wants. He can solve this crisis in 10 minutes," contended Bennett. "In the meantime, we are trying to help behind the scenes. It would be forbidden and unforgivable to topple a right-wing government over nothing."

The coalition crisis began last month, when the United Torah Judaism party warned Netanyahu it would not support the passage of the 2019 budget unless the government backed a UTJ-backed amendment to the draft law enshrining Torah study as a Basic Law, thereby enshrining deferments for ull time yeshiva students.

Failure to pass the budget by the end of March, as mandated in the Basic Law dealing with the Knessetwould the Netanyahu government and lead to snap elections.

The Yisrael Beytenu party, headed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, rejects the suggested amendment to the law and demands that haredim not be exempt from military service. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) has threatened to resign if the budget is not passed before Passover.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked added that the impasse is "a fake political crisis. Everyone in the coalition thinks so. The haredim do not like the outline of the new [compromise] law, but they can live with it ... The crisis is solvable and resolved. We need to decide whether we are taking down a right-wing government for no reason.

Earlier Saturday night, senior officials in the coalition threatened the prime minister that if he calls for early elections, they would postpone them for at least six months, to a date that is considered less convenient for Netanyahu.

According to the sources, if the prime minister ultimately decides to hold early elections, several coalition parties will join together in order to hold them only after the holidays, in October, in coordination with the opposition. "Even if Netanyahu demands it, elections will not be held until the end of the year," said Shaked, intimating that the polls could change by then.