Rivlin Warns Against Fourth Election: 'Unforgivable Blow'

A fourth election within less than two years is ‘inconceivable while we count our dead,’ Rivlin tells to two main coalition partners as stalemate over state budget lingers

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President Reuven Rivlin applauded after his speech at the German parliament in Berlin, January 29, 2020.
President Reuven Rivlin applauded after his speech at the German parliament in Berlin, January 29, 2020.Credit: MICHELE TANTUSSI/ REUTERS

President Reuven Rivlin said on Monday that a fourth cycle of election within less than two years is 'inconceivable' as Israel grapples with a political turmoil and an economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Further elections are not possible. We cannot continue to deal with this as a logical possibility while we are counting our dead."

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"If you take us there, elected officials of whatever party, to that dreadful nadir, you will inflict on this country a hard, painful, unforgivable blow," Rivlin wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, the two main coalition partners, are currently attempting to emerge from a political stalemate over the passing of the state budget.

The main dispute blocking the passing of a 2020 budget is the demand by Gantz to pass a two-year document, as stipulated in his party’s coalition agreement with Netanyahu’s 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.

On Monday, Gantz urged Netanyahu to approve a bill within 24 hours delaying the deadline for the state budget.

Gantz’s party said that if the bill was not fully passed on Tuesday, it would be pointless to consider other proposals in the future.

“The citizens of Israel have had their fill of political tricks for which they – and only they – pay the price,” Gantz said at a meeting of his Kahol Lavan party, where he called called on Netanyahu to agree to an extension of the coalition’s deadline for a state budget by 100 days in a bid to avoid another election – which would be the country’s fourth in less than two years.

Responding to Gantz’s call for him to agree to a 100-day extension, Netanyahu said at a meeting of his Likud party, “We don’t need 24 hours or even minutes. We have a one-year budget prepared.”

If a budget is not approved by August 24, 100 days after the current government took office, the Knesset will dissolve and Israel will head to an election.

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