Two Days to Budget Deadline, Israel’s Coalition Parties Debate Extension to Avoid Election

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Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu attend a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 7, 2020.
Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu attend a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 7, 2020. Credit: Menahem Kahana/Pool via REUTERS

With two days left before the deadline for passing a budget elapses, forcing the Knesset to dissolve, the heads of the major parties in the coalition are debating whether to back legislation to extend it by 100 days.

The proposal by lawmaker Zvi Hauser would move the deadline to late November. Meanwhile, legislation would be passed that would effectively duplicate the budget for 2019 and allow funding for some institutions, such as yeshiva religious schools.

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.

The Knesset Finance Committee is set to convene Sunday morning to discuss Hauser’s bill and to prepare it for the second and then the final, third vote in the Knesset. Without a compromise between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, however, there is no majority for any proposal.

Members of both Gantz’s Kahol Lavan and Netanyahu’s Likud are discussing the proposed compromise and are debating what to do. Kahol Lavan is inclined to support it, as it would put an end to the idea of a single-year budget, which the party rejects in favor of a two-year budget as laid out in its coalition agreement with Likud, and would apparently not allow Netanyahu to intervene in various appointments, but rather put them in the hands of a committee.

It is unclear how Likud will act. Netanyahu spent Saturday at his official residence, speaking with his close advisers and considering his options. In the meantime, the rhetorical sparring between the two parties has continued. On Friday, Kahol Lavan referred to Public Security Minister Amir Ohana of Likud as “a lackey,” and on Saturday Likud attacked Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi of Kahol Lavan, saying he was “a tireless underminer. Up to the last moment, Ashkenazi continues to make every effort to drag Israel to an election in order to get rid of Gantz. It’s best for Ashkenazi to give out grades in his expertise: Serious security leaks, sabotaging candidates for the chief of staff, and criminal subversion against the political leadership.”

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