Economy Minister Nir Barkat, a senior member of the ruling Likud party, is reportedly intending to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 18-year leadership of the party after the ongoing war, saying the party “needs change” and urging that national elections be held after the war is over.
“I won’t support Netanyahu again. After the war we must turn to the people and get its trust anew. Likud needs change,” Barkat told Likud activists last week at a bike store in Kiryat Gat, according to the Kan public broadcaster.
“I’m acting in accordance with an agenda, and it is nearing its end,” he added. Kan says this means running for the leadership of the Likud party, even if Netanyahu doesn’t step down, adding — without citing a source — that Barkat has confirmed in private meetings that this is his intention.
Barkat responds to the report by saying: “I don’t intend to cooperate with political officials who have an ulterior motive. It is no secret that I have professional criticism that relates to the issue of the budget, which I believe will be solved.”
Barkat has threatened to vote against the wartime budget update this week, publicly decrying it as insufficient to answer wartime economic needs. A source close to the economy minister has said that the budget, as presented, “will lead to economic collapse.”
Kan notes that its report, however, has nothing to do with the budget issue.