Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his nation Sunday early elections would be "irresponsible" by his coalition partners amid unstable security and announced he will be taking over defense minister duties.
Key coalition allies are threatening to call for snap elections before the scheduled November 2019 elections. In Israel's system of proportional representation, no single party can govern alone.
"We are in a particularly complex security situation," Netanyahu said Sunday night. "In times like these, you do not overthrow a government. It's irresponsible. We have another full year until elections."
Netanyahu addressed the nation after meeting with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who was the first to call for an early election after Avigdor Liberman resigned from the Defense Ministry on Wednesday and pulled his Yisrael Beytenu party from the coalition. Liberman is opposed to a cease-fire in Gaza.
"I risked my life time after time to safeguard our lives here in the Land of Israel," Netanyahu said in a nationally televised address in Israel's defense headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu acknowledged the public's criticism of events in Gaza. "I will not say when we will act and how," he said in his address. "I have a clear plan. I know what to do and when to do it. And we will do it."
His coalition partner, the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi, which is Jewish Home in English, wants its party leader, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, to be named defense minister. Otherwise immediate elections must be held, acording to the Orthodox Jewish, religious Zionist party.
Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu noted his opposition to the early election during a Cabinet meeting.
"In a sensitive period for our security, we don't need [early elections] and we know what happens when elements in a right-wing government led to the government being toppled, like in 1992 and in 1999, which brought us the disaster of Oslo and the disaster of the [Second] Intifada," Netanyahu said during the opening of the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
In an interview to the Israel Television News Company on Saturday, Kahlon said that unless Netanyahu "pulls a rabbit from a hat" he will vote to dissolve the parliament Wednesday. Also, Bennett supports an early election.
"Ministers Kahlon and Bennett can prevent the dissolution of the government," Netanyahu's spokesman Jonatan Urich posted on Twitter. "We can most certainly prevent unnecessary elections at this time and allow the government to continue for many more months."
Urich said Sunday is the last chance to prevent the government's dissolution.
Since March 205, the current government led by the Lakud party has been in power. The coalition includes nationalist and religious parties.
The coalition has a one-seat majority in the 120-member parliament with Liberman's departure.
Netanyahy, who has won four elections, is favored by residents as prime minister but his Likud party might not be able to stay in power if other parties can form a coalition without it.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a report by the Jerusalem Post "it is clear that what we need to do will not get done under this government."
She favors Bennett becoming defense minister if the goverment continues to function until November 2019.
"Bennett will revolutionize our security and bring Israel's deterrence back, which was lost under Liberman in the past two years, and will help save us from a deep crisis of faith in our security," Shaked said. "Without that, this government is called right-wing, but in practicality is fulfilling left-wing policies. The public is sick of voting for the right and getting left."
Coalition chairman David Amsalem of the Likud party blamed Bennett for the deterioration in the coalition.
"We have a [right-wing] government that could continue for another year," Amsalem said. "The prime minister will meet with the finance minister to day, but personally, I think these talks have no chance."