Israel faces prospect of yet another election due to budget impasse

Israel faces prospect of yet another election due to budget impasse

  • Netanyahu-Gantz coalition could collapse as deadline for new financial plan looms

Israel risks being thrust into a fourth round of elections and further financial strife as coalition rivals clash over meeting a Monday deadline to pass the country’s budget.

The veteran prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, secured his political survival earlier this year by clinching a coalition deal with his rival Benny Gantz. But the unhappy alliance faces imminent collapse if the two cannot agree on money matters.

Lawmakers have until midnight on Monday to pass the budget or approve a 100-day extension, otherwise parliament will automatically be dissolved and polls set for November.

With no compromise being reached by Sunday morning, the government’s weekly cabinet meeting was scrapped reportedly over the disagreement.

“We’re ready for solutions … There’s no reason to take us to elections,” Gantz said on Saturday.

After days of his Blue and White party trading barbs with Netanyahu’s Likud, the prime minister on Thursday stressed it was “important that we do everything to prevent another election” and pass the budget.

The political stalemate following three inconclusive elections has long delayed Israel’s budget, with the government using last year’s plan throughout 2020. With the coronavirus pandemic sparking an economic crisis, the government has announced additional financial measures such as cash handouts to Israelis.