Hebrew media reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been sitting down with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at the Prime Minister’s Office for more than three hours, without achieving a solution for the latter’s demand for an extra hundreds of millions of shekels for the Negev and Galilee Ministry, held by Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party.
The dispute is the last major hurdle remaining before the approval of the 2023-2024 state budget, which must be passed in the next seven days or the government will automatically fall, with snap elections called. Ben Gvir says he will not back the budget if his demand is not met. However, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has reportedly threatened to quit if the budget is expanded even by another shekel.
Netanyahu, who reportedly supports Smotrich’s stance, has suggested taking the money from Ben Gvir’s own ministry, and the latter has rejected this, the reports say.
The Kan public broadcaster says there is a disagreement within Otzma Yehudit, where some members oppose supporting the budget if less than NIS 700-800 million is added to the party’s ministry.