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Sources: ‘Budget battle threatens to trigger fourth election in Israel’

October 8, 2020 at 2:28 pm

Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benajamin Netanyahu and the Likud party stage a protest in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem on 24 March 2020 [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images]

Hebrew media reported that tensions escalated between members of the Likud party and the Blue and White party (Kahol Lavan) as the date of approving the state budget approaches.

The official Hebrew radio said that ministers of the (Kahol Lavan) party who participate in the ruling coalition are studying the possibility of impeding governmental expenses until the passage of the budget bill for the coming fiscal year.

Adding that it is possible that the budget will be rejected and early elections may be held in March.

Minister Meirav Cohen said her Blue and White party would take all available steps, including early elections, in order to approve next year’s budget.

Cohen added that the Likud has other political considerations, most notably the trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges, which prompted its ministers to hinder the passage of the budget bill as a way to withdraw from the rotation mechanism which forms part of the power sharing deal between the two parties.

Head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman, said that Netanyahu has head for another election, but is waiting for the right opportunity to announce it.

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Lieberman noted that Netanyahu is currently working on escalating the budget crisis.

He added that dissolving the government by blocking the passage of the budget bill is the only way for Netanyahu to withdraw from the ruling coalition without handing power over to Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz.

The Hebrew newspaper Israel Today reported yesterday that the budget bill must be ratified by the Knesset no later than 23 December.

The newspaper said: “Not approving the budget on time will lead to disbanding the Knesset and holding early elections, as stipulated by Israeli law.”

Last May, the Likud party and Kahol Lavan reached an agreement under which Gantz would replace Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel in 18 months.

The main dispute between the two parties centres on the Likud’s attempt to approve a one-year budget, while the Blue and White party is seeking a two-year budget, which may lead Israel to head into its fourth elections since April 2019.