Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday in what might be a last-ditch effort to avoid new elections.
Bennett is expected to reiterate to the prime minister that he will pull the Jewish Home out of the coalition if he is not appointed defense minister. Bennett currently serves as Education Minister and Minister for Diaspora Affairs.
The coalition's future appears shaky after both Kiulanu Chairman Moshe Kahlon and Shas head Aryeh Deri called for new elections on Thursday. Kahlon also told Netanyahu that he will veto Bennett's aspirations to be defense minister.
"Bennett doesn't have it coming to get the Defense Ministry portfolio. I'm opposed to it," Kahlon told Netanyahu.
The Netanyahu government currently holds a 66-seat majority in the 120 member Knesset. With Yisrael Beytenu’s departure, that majority has now been reduced to just 61 seats.
On Thursday, Bennett said at an Education Ministry conference that he demanded to succeed Avigdor Liberman as the defense minister in order to restore Israel's deterrence vis a vis Hamas.
"Without taking responsibility for security and without dramatic change, Israel's deterrence will continue to erode, Hamas will continue not to be afraid of us. As defense minister, I intend to bring innovation, creativity and a spirit of fighting, to break a decades-long mental state," contended Bennett. "I am willing to take responsibility."