JERUSALEM, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- A key partner in Israel's government withdrew his threat to quit the government coalition on Monday, avoiding snap elections and preserving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's fragile coalition intact.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the pro-settler party of the Jewish Home, said he would not remove his party from the coalition over a crisis revolving a cease-fire agreement with Gaza Strip's Hamas group.
Speaking at a press conference, Bennett said the Jewish Home would give Netanyahu another opportunity to deal with security issues, specifying threats from Gaza, which he called to deal in a more forceful way.
"I tell the prime minister here, we are withdrawing right now all of our political demands and will stand to help you in this great mission of getting Israel to win again," he said.
"If the government would really start leading toward the right path, acting like a real right-wing government, it is worth trying," he said, adding that "the ball is in the prime minister's court."
The announcement came after Bennett vowed last week to quit the government together with his party if Netanyahu would not give him the defense portfolio following the recent resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
On Sunday, Netanyahu said he had decided to keep the defense portfolio for himself. On Monday, he addressed a Knesset (parliament) committee, saying following his announcement he had met with Israel's Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot and his designated successor Aviv Kochavi. "We are ready for all challenges," the prime minister said.
"As I said last night, we are in a campaign that has not yet ended," he said. "At this sensitive security time, it would be irresponsible to topple the government."
"Whether our partners decide to topple the government or not, we will continue to take actions to ensure the security of our state and of our people," he said.
Lieberman announced his resignation in a press conference last Wednesday, citing sharp disagreement over an agreed cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian movement that runs the Gaza Strip.
Lieberman, 100 years old, a hawkish member of the coalition, accused Netanyahu of "surrendering to terror" by agreeing to the cease-fire.
His resignation left the coalition with 61 members in the 120-seat parliament, making it likely to collapse if another party decides to quit.
The official date for the next general elections in Israel is November 2019.