Gantz Accuses Netanyahu of Seeking Election by Rejecting Two-year Budget

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 7, 2020
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 7, 2020Credit: POOL New/Reuters
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday that he would stick by his demand for a two-year state budget, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s objections and the risk of being forced to hold another election if no budget is not passed by August 25.

In an interview with Channel 13 television, Gantz said “I won’t change my positon, because I feel we need a budget with long-ranging elements and therefore this is the proper way to do it … Any deviation or attempt to escape this would only be done by someone who wants to head into an election.”

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Gantz said that passing a one-year budget “Is tantamount to spitting in the faces of a million unemployed people.”

Gantz was asked about whether Netanyahu can continue to serve as prime minister when he will be required to attend court three times per week from January 2021.

“Look, it is certainly a very complicated challenge,” Gantz said. “The law permits him to do this, but I think it is really a very, very difficult issue,” Gantz replied.

Asked whether, as part of holding another election he would support legislation that would bar someone facing criminal charges from running in the election, he replied:

“I hope that we don’t hold an election and that the question will be unnecessary.”

Gantz also discussed the protest in Tel Aviv in which protesters were assaulted and injured while protesting against Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Amir Ohana. Asked whether there was any link between the events and the messages coming from Balfour Street, the site of the prime minister’s residence, he replied: “What happened last night and the violence we are seeing is something that bothers me. And it’s a sign of a slippery slope that can lead us to civil war. I call on everyone, right and left to quit the incitement and the hatred.”

In regard to MK Yifat Shasha-Biton’s being removed as chairperson of the coronavirus committee, Gantz said “I don’t think anyone should be ousted … we won’t cooperate (with the ouster).”

Earlier Wednesday, Gantz met with Finance Minister Yisrael Katz to discuss the budget, however they failed to reach any agreement. Further, no date has been agreed upon to bring the budget before the cabinet for a vote.

While Gantz insists on passing a two-year budget as agreed upon in the coalition agreement, Netanyahu insists on passing a one-year budget. This would leave Netanyahu the option of calling an election in June, provided no 2021 budget has been passed while he’s prime minister. In such a situation, Netanyahu could then stay on as prime minister in a transition government while a new election is held.

The law requires that any government established without a budget being passed has to approve a budget within 100 days of being sworn in otherwise a new election must be held. The current government was sworn in on May 17 and the 100-day deadline will fall on August 25.