- Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu supports a one year budget.
- There are fears that Netanyahu is looking to break up the unity government.
- Benny Gantz's alternate prime minister position is being challenged in court.
A new report by the Times of Israel alleges that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking to sabotage the current unity government with Benny Gantz. According to the publication, the Prime Minister is waiting for the right moment to break up the partnership.
His party has already made several requests to change several clauses in the Gantz agreement. It has already asked for more ministers, and there is a petition in court challenging the legality of the alternative prime minister position currently held by Gantz.
The court case, in particular, reveals that major forces are at play to delegitimize Gantz’s position and prevent him from taking over the reins of power once Netanyahu’s term comes to an end.
According to a senior Likud party official, “The marriage between us and Blue and White will end at the Rabbinate [with a divorce] much faster than everyone thinks. Netanyahu is trying to find the right timing and pretext to call elections.”
Netanyahu has apparently demanded that the clause allowing Gantz to take over leadership be scrapped if another election is conducted between November 2020 and November 2021. There are already signs that the prime minister is preparing the ground for the dispersal of the current arrangement, and the calling of a fourth election.
Netanyahu is set to announce his decision to table a one-year budget for approval. The move would be in contravention of the Likud and Blue and White coalition agreement that advocates for a two-year budget. The long-term budget-clause was drafted by the coalition government to maintain political stability.
Netanyahu’s argument is that the coronavirus crisis, and the current economic instability, make it hard to draft a long-term budget. This perspective has been supported by the country’s Finance Minister, Israel Katz.
There are fears that the move by Netanyahu is not only driven by economic concerns but rather political ones. Having to draw up a new budget every year gives Netanyahu a chance to dissolve the government.
The Israeli law states that if the 2021 budget is not consented to by March, the Knesset would be dissolved. The scenario would lead to another election, and Netanyahu would once again vie for the prime minister position.
Subsequently, Benny Gantz’s dream to automatically become prime minister would be shattered. It is unclear whether he would run again after experiencing such political maneuvering. This is one of the main reasons why he opposes the one-year budget.
He faces an uphill task in trying to block the two-year budget proposal because the Finance Ministry and the governor of the Bank of Israel, Amir Yaron, currently support the one-year budget proposal.
By agreeing to it, he puts his political future in jeopardy. Netanyahu is presenting Gantz with tons of challenges to undermine his chances of taking over. He hopes to significantly undercut his power in the next few months.