Netanyahu Says He Will Accept Compromise to Avoid Election

Netanyahu says he will accept compromise to delay budget deadline by 100 days and freeze appointments of senior officials

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Jerusalem, August 13, 2020
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Jerusalem, August 13, 2020Credit: POOL/Reuters
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted a compromise Sunday to push the deadline for passing a state budget to late November, staving off a fourth election in less than two years, saying that this was a "time for unity."

"I have decided to accept the compromise proposed by MK Zvi Hauser," Netanyahu said. "This compromise is the right solution for Israel at this time. This is the time for unity, not the time for elections," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu also lashed out at his coalitions partners Kahol Lavan and said "we need to stop the 'deep state' government, I hear wild attacks on the prime minister from Kahol Lavan, from inside the government. Enough with this."

The Knesset Finance Committee convened earlier Sunday to discuss the bill proposed by Hauser that would extend the deadline by 100 days. Hauser’s proposal would also place a 100-day freeze on appointments that must be approved by the cabinet, such as the state prosecutor. During these 100 days, a committee would be formed to discuss how the appointments will be decided upon. During this period, the government will focus on the coronavirus crisis and preparing for security challenges along the Gaza border and in the north.

The Finance Committee will reconvene following Netanyahu's announcement for a vote on the bill Sunday night, after it was suspended at the request of Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin to allow Likud and Kahol Lavan to reach a consensus on the issue. 

Defense Minister Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan had expressed earlier on Sunday an atmosphere of pressure amid negotiations with Likud. "At a time when nine million citizens expect us to unite and handle security concerns and the coronavirus, Likud is busy with political games," said Kahol Lavan in a statement, addeding "they are spitting in the face of Israeli citizens for personal reasons."

Hauser said in response that he was "glad to hear that the prime minister has agreed to the compromise proposal I suggested, it is a necessary condition, but it is not yet a sufficient condition. I hope that the Knesset will continue the legislative process. This is the only way that we can save Israel from an election."

Opposition leader Yair Lapid also commented on Netanyahu's announcement saying: "So another 100 days without a budget and then an election? Is this their compromise? To continue Netanyahu's complete failure? Schools will not open properly, self-employed people will not receive aid, insane unemployment that will continue?"

Speaking at the Finance Committee meeting, Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said, "It's no secret that I thought, and still think, that it's proper to pass a one-year budget for 2020. After a political compromise was made and we cannot present a 2020 budget, the question is how we will expand our ability to fund urgent areas of the economy."

Netanyahu said he had "no intention of not appointing a [police] commissioner or a state attorney," when asked about the part of the proposal which would freeze appointments for a 100 days.

After passing through the committee, the Knesset plenum will vote on the legislation in the second and third readings on Monday.

Should the August 25 deadline elapse without a budget being passed, the Knesset will have to be dissolved by law.