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Israel on Verge of Fourth National Election in Two Years

Image source: (AP Photo)
Image source: (AP Photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is blaming Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz for going back on his word and dragging the country into yet another round of elections.

"We worked very hard to prevent elections, unnecessary elections," Netanyahu said. "We reached agreements with Blue and White. Because of internal pressure in his party, Benny Gantz decided to go back on it, and because of this thing, it's causing the country to go to unnecessary elections."

He said that instead of having a stable government, Gantz was running a government inside the government.
The comments came after Gantz said he had sent Netanyahu his "final offer" in an attempt to pass a budget and avert national elections.

If the 2020 budget is not passed by midnight tomorrow, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) will dissolve automatically and the country will go to elections in about three months.  That would be the fourth national election in two years.

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Due to the coronavirus crisis, Netanyahu and Gantz joined forces after elections in March after no clear winner emerged. Under a power-sharing agreement, Netanyahu was to remain in office until next year, and then Gantz is supposed to rotate in as prime minister.

But the partnership has been fraught with trouble since the beginning, including the inability to pass a budget for two years as was initially agreed. 

Tuesday night is the deadline for its passage to prevent elections. They could also pass legislation that would delay the budget passage a bit longer.

"I gave Netanyahu my final offer and he's supposed to get back to me," Gantz is quoted saying. "I think he'll say no and the Knesset will be dissolved tomorrow."

Gantz told party members that he had spoken with Netanyahu and given him the list of his demands for continuing to advance budget-related legislation. That list includes guaranteed passing of 2020-2021 State budgets; confirmation of Knesset rules of procedure; and closing "any potential loopholes meant to avoid follow-through on rotational agreement."

Netanyahu's Likud Party responded by saying that the Likud would "remain strong" against what it called "this attempted coup by the Left that is trampling our democracy."

Likud accused Gantz of dragging "the country to unnecessary elections in the midst of the coronavirus crisis."

On Sunday, it appeared that the two sides had come up with a compromise but that is looking less likely now.

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