Coalition in talks with Joint List for cooperation on state budget — report

With government’s threadbare majority endangering passage of national monetary plan, Arab-majority alliance could cooperate with leadership in exchange for economic benefits

Leader of the Joint list Ayman Odeh (R) and party member Ahmad Tibi arrive for a meeting with party members at the Knesset on September 22, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Leader of the Joint list Ayman Odeh (R) and party member Ahmad Tibi arrive for a meeting with party members at the Knesset on September 22, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The coalition is holding talks with the Arab-majority Joint List to secure its “safety net” support for the state budget, should the government not have enough votes to pass it in the Knesset, according to a Channel 13 report Friday.

Unnamed sources in the Joint List told the network that preliminary talks have been held on the matter with coalition leaders.

They said the Joint List will help pass the budget in exchange for various economic moves to benefit its constituents.

Channel 12 also reported that coalition leaders — and particularly Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid and Blue and White head Benny Gantz — were in talks with the Joint List on various points for potential cooperation, though the report did not specifically mention the state budget.

Passing a state budget is key to securing the new government, with politicians expecting its longevity to hinge on the matter. But with many disparate voices within the coalition, infighting and gridlock on the matter are distinct possibilities.

The new coalition has a razor-thin majority of 61 MKs in the Knesset, a fact that has already given its leader headaches as they work to pass legislation.

Earlier this week lawmakers approved a series of measures aimed at shoring up the new coalition, including a quasi-constitutional amendment extending the deadline for the government to pass a budget.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not seen) in Rome, June 27, 2021.
(Andrew Harnik/AP)

Knesset members voted to extend the deadline for the government to pass a budget, giving it three months from the beginning of the budget year or 145 days from the date of the formation of the government, whichever is later.

In the case of the new coalition, which was sworn in on June 13, it will now have until November 4 to pass the 2021 budget.

Israel last approved a state budget for 2019, before it became embroiled in a two-year political gridlock. In the previous government, then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to pass a budget — which allowed him to call elections without coalition partner Defense Minister Benny Gantz immediately becoming transitional prime minister under the terms of their rotation deal.

On Tuesday the government failed to pass a Knesset motion renewing a law that bars Palestinians from obtaining Israeli citizenship through marriage.

The law has historically been supported by right-wing parties as a necessary measure for Israeli security and to ensure the country maintains a Jewish majority. However, several opposition parties from the right, including Likud and Religious Zionism, voted against the law’s extension as a means of embarrassing and weakening the coalition, which includes a wide array of parties from across the political spectrum.

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