Netanyahu says new elections 'last thing Israel needs'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed reports that he is seeking early elections over tensions within his government coalition which could lead to the collapse of his government Anadolu Agency reported
"The last thing the people of Israel need now is an election," Netanyahu was quoted as saying late Tuesday by The Jerusalem Post at his 65th birthday celebration at his office.
"We want to continue with this government, with this Knesset, to continue leading the people of Israel along the correct path."
The reports emerged against the backdrop of a looming political crisis sparked by Netanyahu's spoken intention to prevent legislating Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party's controversial conversion bill opposed by the ultra-Orthodox parties.
Livni wrote on her Facebook page that her party will continue pushing the conversion reform bill in the Knesset "with the help of our liberal partners" even if it is not advanced by the cabinet.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu will meet with the heads of the parties inside his governing coalition on Wednesday and threaten them that if they "continue their insubordination," he will initiate early elections.
"What Netanyahu said [at his birthday party] does not mean we won't deteriorate to early elections, which could still happen," a source close to the prime minister was quoted by the Israeli paper as saying.
"We will no longer accept threats from coalition partners. If they refuse to compromise, it would lead to elections."
Netanyahu's coalition, formed in March of last year in the wake of legislative elections, comprises five parties: Likud (20), Yesh Atid (19), Jewish Home (12), Yisrael Beiteinu (11) and Livni's Hatnua (6) for a total of 68 members in the 120-seat Knesset.