Photo: GPO

Netanyahu & Gantz face off over budget

A political crisis is seemingly threatening the Israeli government’s stability, just two and a half weeks ahead of a legally-binding deadline for approving the state budget.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding a one-year budget, which he claims is vital to deal with the economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, other the other hand, is insisting on a duration of two years in accordance with the coalition agreement signed between the two leaders which established the reigning national unity government.

Neither Netanyahu nor Gantz are willing to budge from their respective positions, and political officials from both camps say resolution to the impasse does not appear on the horizon.

Israeli law dictates that failure by the Knesset to pass the budget within the prescribed time limitations would lead to the automatic dissolution of the government and the holding of yet another round of national elections.

Leaders of the Ultra-Orthodox parties have issued a statement calling upon Netanyahu and Gantz to avoid an election, clarifying that they “won’t cooperate with any initiative to move up the elections” and that passage of the budget “is the order of the day.”

In his response to that call, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he believed “that the budget should have passed yesterday” but reiterated his insistence it be for a single year only – thus signaling what may be an inevitable and unwelcome outcome.