Israel to hold early elections

Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett gives a speech in Ramat Gan Israel on Thursday. — AFP

"They will set a date for elections when they meet with the [other] coalition partners Sunday", the source said.

Within minutes, a statement from Likud said that was incorrect. Ministers and smaller parties are leaving Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, threatening his future as prime minister.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed that it's important to make every effort in order to preserve the right-wing government and not to repeat the historical mistake of 1992 when a right-wing government was toppled, raised the left to power and brought the Oslo disaster upon Israel".

The Gaza ceasefire, which ended the worst flare-up between Israel and the territory's Islamist rulers Hamas since a 2014 war, faced its first major test on Friday, the day of the week when Palestinian border protests have typically peaked.

The fishermen's union said the 20-year-old man was working on the beach near the land maritime fence separating Gaza from Israel when he was shot in the stomach.

According to the Palestinian health ministry, 40 people were injured and no fatalities were reported as thousands marched near the border fence with Israel.

The ceasefire announced Tuesday has drawn heavy criticism in Israeli communities near the border that faced barrages of rockets earlier this week.

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Likewise, he called the funding transferred last week to Gaza by Qatar - agreed to by Egypt, the United Nations, the United States and Israel - "purely $15 million of terror funding", warning that the oversight mechanism that is supposed to be place to ensure the money is used for civil service salaries, "is a sham".

Pro-Netanyahu freesheet Yisrael Hayom daily predicted that the prime minister would do all he could to avoid a general election while his hard-won security credentials were at issue. Mr Bennett said he would be seeing other party leaders tomorrow to discuss the date of an election.

"The chances of stopping this speeding train appear impossible, but Netanyahu is still trying".

Mr Netanyahu instead took the portfolio himself, leading Mr Bennett's Jewish Home party to pull out of the government, taking eight seats with it and leaving Mr Netanyahu without a majority in parliament.

Israel's ruling coalition looks likely to crumble as key ministers veto the appointment of Naftali Bennett as defence minister.

On Thursday morning, Kahlon, the Finance Minister, met with Netanyahu and said it was time to call early elections.

Opposition lawmakers also urged Netanyahu to call early elections after Liberman resigned on Wednesday.

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