The showdown that’s threatening to bring down the Israeli government deepened over the weekend, resulting in the rare cancellation of the cabinet’s weekly Sunday meeting.
The latest spat between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White revolves around Likud’s proposed 8.5 billion-shekel ($2.5 billion) supplement to the government’s coronavirus relief program. Gantz said the details of the expensive program are incomplete, while Likud says Blue and White is withholding much-needed aid from Israeli citizens.
The dispute is part of a larger feud that’s clouding the coalition’s survival. The government is required by law to pass a budget by late August, but Netanyahu is balking at honoring a provision in their coalition agreement to craft a two-year spending plan. If no budget is approved by that deadline, or the law isn’t amended, parliament will be dissolved and a fourth election in less than two years will be held.
A two-year spending plan would deny Netanyahu the ability to bring down the government over the budget next year before Gantz is to take over as premier in November 2021 under their rotation deal. Likud says officials have to move quickly on the budget to anchor the virus-battered economy and that drafting a one-year plan alone would take less time.