Minister Amir Peretz Vows to Opposes State Budget - in Violation of Coalition Discipline

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MK Amir Peretz speaking from the Knesset podium.
MK Amir Peretz speaking from the Knesset podium. Credit: Emil Salman

Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz said Saturday he would violate coalition discipline and vote against the 2015 state budget in the Knesset Monday, endangering his life span in the government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might fire Peretz if he carries out his threat, because ministers are not allowed to vote against a cabinet decision.

But Peretz might do the job himself; he attacked Netanyahu in a television interview and said he planned to leave the coalition.

“I do not intend to remain in this government. Netanyahu isn’t the solution, he’s the problem,” Peretz said on Channel 2 television’s “Meet the Press,” without adding when he would resign.

“When everything around is burning, the prime minister sets the ground on fire instead of calming things down. At the ceremony in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, Netanyahu actually chose to fan the flames, but out of respect for the occasion I didn’t get up and walk out. I’ve done everything I can to advance the peace process and fight for the [ability] to live with dignity for Israeli citizens — for the elderly and poor children,” Peretz said.

“The deterioration is in every area — diplomatic, social and economic — and on Monday in the Knesset I won’t vote for the budget. I have no intention to continue serving Netanyahu’s policy, which has become captive to the right. Prime Minister Netanyahu has led us to despair — the time has come to usher in hope. He has missed all the opportunities he’s had and chosen to be captive and paralyzed by the extremists.”

The coalition whip, MK Zeev Elkin (Likud), responded with a threat to Peretz.

“Amir Peretz knows the rules of the political game very well. If he doesn’t want to be a cabinet member, it’s not hard to find the fax number of the Prime Minister’s Office to send a resignation letter,” Elkin said.

“I understand that for now what interests Amir Peretz is his political survival for the next term, and it seems he’s searching for a way in a different political framework. But the Israeli public is not stupid and knows how to distinguish between cheap populism and political survival maneuvers and a true ideological position.”

Ya’alon and Bennett: the next round

Also yesterday, the sparring between Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett heated up. Ya’alon attacked Bennett in response to Bennett’s criticism of Netanyahu’s decision to use large concrete blocks to protect light rail stations in Jerusalem. This would be done instead of a military operation to return the peace to the capital.

“Knesset members and especially ministers are required to be responsible,” Ya’alon said on Channel 10 television. He added that unrest in the city should not be used for political purposes.

“If anyone has claims against how the government is functioning, he can express them inside the cabinet room,” Ya’alon said about Bennett.

Regarding the concrete blocks, Ya’alon said the protection of lives required protective means. “The best defense is offense, but we need to protect citizens’ lives,” he said.

Ya’alon also attacked right-wing MKs who have entered the Temple Mount in recent days.

“When someone goes up to the Temple Mount in a provocative manner and starts his journey the previous night on the Internet, he’s challenging the status quo we’re committed to as a government,” Ya’alon said. “It’s clear that this is an element of incitement. It’s a matter of saving lives, and unnecessary political actions in the end cost people’s lives.”

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