Gantz Considering Forming Alternate Government With Opposition Over Budget, Report Says

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Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz tours a military exercise in the north, October 27, 2020.
Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz tours a military exercise in the north, October 27, 2020.Credit: Gil Eliahu

Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz told his associates that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not pass the state budget for next year, he will consider establishing an alternate government with the opposition or going to elections, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Wednesday.

According to the Yedioth report, Gantz told associates that he will consider supporting MK Moshe Ya'alon of Yesh Atid-Telem as a candidate for temporary prime ministership. "Bogie [Ya'alon], dissolution, re-forming [a government] – it's all on the table," Gantz said.

"There are things that are going on underground, and there are opportunities in this Knesset as well. One thing is for sure: We in Kahol Lavan know that this government continuing without a budget is a bigger blow than elections," he said.

The main point of contention preventing the passing of a budget is the demand by Gantz to pass a two-year budget as outlined in the coalition agreement with Likud. In contrast, Netanyahu is determined to pass a one-year budget, which would leave him the option of calling an election next June if the next budget, for 2021, isn’t passed in the spring, before Gantz is supposed to take over as prime minister according to the coalition agreement.

"If Netanyahu does not pass a budget, it will be a crime against this country and its citizens," the report quoted the Kahol Lavan chairman as saying. "Likud will not succeed in explaining to citizens why it is not looking out for their futures but only for themselves, in the event that the budget for next year is not advanced."

Earlier this month, Gantz clarified that if this budget is not passed by the end of October, he will put Knesset processes in motion to initiate elections. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, also of Kahol Lavan, said this month that the government is not functioning, and that "if this doesn't change by the end of the month, we'll need to go to the polls again."

Gantz accused Netanyahu of putting his personal wellbeing ahead of the good of the country. According to Yedioth, he told his associates that "The prime minister's conduct regarding the state budget is grating the Israeli economy. Finance Ministry professionals themselves said in the past and present that it's possible to manage to pass a budget and advance it seriously. His reasons for not advancing the issue are puzzling and disturbing," he said.

"It's hard to believe that Netanyahu doesn't understand the harm that he's doing to the country if he doesn't pass a budget here," he said. "This will be the third year without a budget, and the Israeli economy will bleed for years and will try to recuperate because of this decision. If they don't recover – they'll sell the economy for politics."

 Earlier this month, Netanyahu responded to Kahol Lavan's claims and said that the 2021 budget will be approved by February. "It may be that some of the people are unfamiliar with the timetable of passing a budget," he said. "Soon, we'll set aside the 2020 budget, as we agreed to with Kahol Lavan, and that will give us breathing room to pass the 2021 budget, from what I'm hearing from Finance Ministry officials, by February."

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