Blue and White, Likud further dig in over state budget

The Likud and Blue and White parties continue dig in over the state budget, which must be passed by August 25 or Israel will again face general elections.

“We want a budget for the state and Likud wants a political budget. No economist supports a budget for the holidays. This is nonsense,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz tells Blue and White ministers during a meeting, according to the Haaretz daily.

He says only two people are interested in elections, appearing to refer to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid.

“There are only two people who want elections and nine people who don’t want or need. One wants [elections] to improve his political status, the other his legal and personal status,” Gantz is quoted as saying.

Netanyahu’s Likud quickly fires back, again blaming Blue and White for the cancellation of the cabinet meeting earlier today, which in Blue and White in turn has blamed on Likud.

“Gantz, the citizens of Israel are before everything — approve the budget today,” Army Radio reports a Likud statement as saying.

Blue and White is calling for a budget through 2021 as stipulated by the coalition agreement, while Likud is insisting on a budget for the next few months, citing the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. The passage of a short-term budget — or none at all — could allow Netanyahu to go to new elections without having to hand over the premiership to Gantz as part of the coalition deal.