Israeli Lawmaker Makes Bid to Avoid Election With Budget Bill

Failing to pass budget would trigger fourth election in less than two years ■ Proposal would push back deadline amid disagreement between Kahol Lavan and Likud

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Benny Gantz (L) and Benjamin Netanyahu, June 2020.
Benny Gantz (L) and Benjamin Netanyahu, June 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Coalition MK Zvi Hauser is planning on submitting a bill to postpone the deadline for passing the state budget, in a bid to avoid a new election.

According to the law, the legislature must dissolve if a new government fails to pass a new budget within its first 100 days. The bill, to be proposed by the Derech Eretz faction's Hauser, who currently chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, would amend the Basic Law on the Knesset to extend that deadline from August 25 to November 25. If that date is missed, the country would go to a fourth election in under two years.

Coalition sources said the bill would only be advanced if the disagreement between the two main members, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, isn’t resolved and they decide to avoid an election.

An official in Derech Eretz, which was formed when Kahol Lavan split in March, said the bill “would provide a safety net allowing the preservation of a unity government and prevent dispersing the Knesset in August.” Hauser tweeted Sunday, “Anyone who thinks we can handle this winter with the coronavirus and the flu and enter the cauldron of an election on top of everything doesn’t understand what we are facing.” He added, “We have to regain our composure, provide political certainty and pass a budget as quickly as possible.”

Zvi Hauser in the Knesset, May 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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.

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