Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday avoided an early election for now after a coalition partner backed away from toppling a government hanging on to power with a razor-thin parliamentary majority.
Netanyahu has faced calls from his coalition members to hold a snap election after the resignation of Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday.
In a speech late on Sunday appealing to coalition partners to remain loyal, Netanyahu cited unspecified security challenges ahead and hinted at future action by Israel against its enemies.
Unless the defense minister's portfolio is given to Bennett to rescue Israel from the serious crisis of confidence in security that it is in, there is no point in the existence of a left-wing government.
Despite Netanyahu announcing that he would take the defense minister portfolio only temporarily, Haaretz sources indicated that he intends to keep it in the near future.
Netanyahu came to the news conference from a meeting with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who has urged him to go to early elections.
His Yisrael Beiteinu party has also quit the governing coalition, and its five MPs have withdrawn support for the government, reducing the 66 seats that Netanyahu's coalition had to 61.
"The security of the country is above political considerations", Netanyahu said while insisting that calling elections now would be "irresponsible". Bennett and Kahlon both said they expect elections to produce another conservative government under Netanyahu.
In a sign of a possible agreement being worked out, a spokesman for Netanyahu's Likud party said the premier would "decide on the appointment of ministers in the coming days", but provided no further details.
Netanyahu met Bennett on Friday, but conflicting reports emerged. "The two agreed to meet later in the week".
The study carried out by Yifat Media Check Ltd. and Hamashrokit - "The Whistle" fact-checking NGO - found that most statements made by top Israeli politicians in the past year were either totally or mostly wrong.
He also slammed Netanyahu's recent decision to allow Qatar to send millions of dollars in aid to the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
A week ago, Israel and Hamas were on the brink of a large-scale conflict after Hamas fired more than 400 rockets and mortars at Israel, while the IDF retaliated by sending its warplanes to bomb around a hundred sites in Gaza.
Most opinion polls show Netanyahu easily securing re-election, which would secure him a place in Israeli history as the country's longest serving leader.
A national poll was due in November 2019.
The attorney general is expected to decide in the coming months whether to pursue charges against him, and some analysts believe he would be better positioned to combat them with a fresh electoral mandate.
Meanwhile, early elections loom as Netanyahu's Knesset coalition crumbles over the Jewish state's approach to threats emanating from the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.