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Israel's govt on brink of collapse as budget deadline looms with no deal

A group of activists stands holding opposition banners behind the barricade to demonstrate the coalition government formed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Alliance leader Benny Gantz in West Jerusalem on 17 May 2020. [Mustafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]
A group of activists stands holding opposition banners behind the barricade to demonstrate the coalition government formed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Alliance leader Benny Gantz in West Jerusalem on 17 May 2020. [Mustafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]

Talks between Israel's Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) with Likud parties broke down yesterday evening after the former backtracked from agreements related to putting off passing the budget bill and avoiding a fourth election in two years, Israeli media reported.

In a statement, the Likud party claimed that head of Blue and White Benny Gantz had increased his demands after the bill to delay the budget passed its first reading in the Knesset.

"Due to an internal fight in Blue and White, Gantz has retracted all the agreements reached in negotiations between Blue and White and Likud," a Likud statement said.

According to the Times of Israel, the Likud added: "It's unfortunate that Gantz has decided to drag the country to unnecessary elections at the height of the coronavirus crisis."

Likud's head Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We worked very hard to avoid elections, unnecessary elections. We reached agreements with Blue and White. I thought they were promising, they were good agreements that could have averted these elections."

READ: Blue and White sources: Odds of preventing another election '50-50′

However, Walla news site reported Gantz saying to his party members: "I gave Netanyahu my final offer and he's supposed to get back to me. I think he'll say no and the Knesset will be dissolved tomorrow."

Gantz added: "If I hear tonight that something can be done on this matter, I will update you. If not, the Knesset will turn into a pumpkin tomorrow night."

The Knesset has until this evening to pass the budget bill or be dissolved.

After Israel's third election in a little over a year, rivals the Blue and White party and Likud joined together to form a coalition government. The union, which would see the office of prime minister rotate between the heads of each of the parties, has been fragile and is at risk of collapse.

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