World

Israel's Netanyahu hints at early elections amid coalition crisis over nationality bill

  • Left wing Israelis hold signs and chant slogans during a demonstration to protest a controversial proposed law that would define Israel as "the Jewish state," in Jerusalem, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Hebrew on sign on the left reads: "Bibi racist, not democratic, not Jewish."  referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

    Left wing Israelis hold signs and chant slogans during a demonstration to protest a controversial proposed law that would define Israel as "the Jewish state," in Jerusalem, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Hebrew on sign on the left reads: "Bibi racist, not democratic, not Jewish." referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)  (The Associated Press)

  • Left wing Israelis participate in a demonstration to protest a controversial proposed law that would define Israel as "the Jewish state," in Jerusalem, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Hebrew on sign reads: "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies." (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

    Left wing Israelis participate in a demonstration to protest a controversial proposed law that would define Israel as "the Jewish state," in Jerusalem, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Hebrew on sign reads: "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies." (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)  (The Associated Press)

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second left, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. Israel's prime minister said Sunday that the public expects the government to "return to normal conduct" and hinted at the possibility of early elections if his coalition does not overcome a crisis linked to a contentious nationality bill that would enshrine Israel's status as a Jewish state. The proposal would also make Jewish law a source of legislative inspiration and delist Arabic as an official language. (AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool)

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second left, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. Israel's prime minister said Sunday that the public expects the government to "return to normal conduct" and hinted at the possibility of early elections if his coalition does not overcome a crisis linked to a contentious nationality bill that would enshrine Israel's status as a Jewish state. The proposal would also make Jewish law a source of legislative inspiration and delist Arabic as an official language. (AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

Israel's prime minister says the public expects the government to "return to normal conduct" amid a coalition crisis that could force early elections.

Benjamin Netanyahu's comments at the beginning of Sunday's weekly Cabinet meeting were his strongest yet since talk of early elections erupted following discord within the government over a contentious bill that aims to officially enshrine Israel's status as a Jewish state.

Netanyahu says such legislation is needed in order to defend Israel's right to exist. Critics say it would undermine democracy and make the country's Arab minority second-class citizens. Netanyahu called for an end to mudslinging and threats by legislators to bring down the government.