Netanyahu, Gantz Publicly Warn Against New Election While Budget Stalemate Continues

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Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Benny Gantz during a swearing in ceremony of the new government in Jerusalem, May 17, 2020.
Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Benny Gantz during a swearing in ceremony of the new government in Jerusalem, May 17, 2020.Credit: Amos Ben Gershon/Knesset Spokesperson's Office/Handout via REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz both argued against the holding of a new election on Monday, amid a disagreement between the coalition partners ahead of the August 25 deadline to pass a budget.

Should the deadline pass, a new election would be called, although the deadline can be extended through legislation.   

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On Monday, Netanyahu said at a meeting of his Likud party that “in this period, there is no reason to go to an election” and said the budget had to be passed quickly. Passing the budget immediately was necessary to allow schools to be opened in September and to provide grants to the self-employed, the prime minister argued. 

Gantz meanwhile said at a meeting of his Kahol Lavan party, which signed a coalition deal with Likud in March, that he urged “all my partners in leadership to set aside every political consideration or short-term vision” and that going to a fourth election within less than two years would be irresponsible. He added that according to the coalition agreement, a budget must be passed that covers the rest of 2020 and the entirety of 2021. 

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. In such a situation, according to the agreement, Netanyahu would remain as prime minister in a caretaker government.

Last week, political sources told Haaretz that Netanyahu had decided to not pass the budget for 2020 and to call an election to take place on November 18. Likud denied the report and blamed it on Kahol Lavan officials.