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Israeli hardliners minister offers PM ultimatum



Naftali Bennett threatens to overthrow coalition government party if he has no defense portfolio

Abdel Raouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM

Israel's education minister, Naftali Bennett, has threatened to withdraw his party from the ruling Jewish state if he does not receive a defense bill after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman abruptly resigned.

"If Bennett is not appointed Defense Minister, his party will leave the coalition government," a party official told the Jerusalem Post.

Earlier, the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation quoted a top Likud official as saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely take over the defense portfolio after leaving Lieberman.

Lieberman abruptly resigned from his post a day after a ceasefire was reached between factions of the Palestinian resistance and Israel.

Lieberman announced his resignation at a closed-door meeting of members of his Yisrael Beiteinu party.

If the Bennet Home Party withdraws from government, Netanyahu's current Likud-led coalition will lose its majority of the Knesset, making it vulnerable to a parliamentary vote of suspicion.

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