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Report says Likud officials told Netanyahu: ‘Go to elections now’

Two senior officials in Netanyahu’s Likud party in recent days urged him to go to new elections, Channel 12 reports, as a dispute over the state budget threatens to topple the government.

The officials reportedly told the premier, “The meaning of a two-year budget is that Gantz will be prime minister.”

The network also reports that in recent days Netanyahu met with Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata of the Blue and White party for 90 minutes.

Blue and White fears Netanyahu arranged the meeting to gauge whether Tamano-Shata could be tempted to jump ship to the Likud party if the coalition falls, the report said, without citing its sources.

Tamano-Shata shoots down the rumors, saying, “Whoever is looking to join a narrow government is wasting their time.”

On Twitter, Tamano-Shata writes, “On Thursday we had a meeting between myself and PM Netanyahu. The meeting was only professional, and about the [immigration] office’s assessment of the coronavirus period, ahead of the expected waves of immigration to Israel.

“The meeting was held with the knowledge of Benny Gantz. All other speculation is non-existent. I will not give my hand to a narrow government. The only thing that needs to be done now is to pass a budget for 2020-2021.”

Likud officials also say the meeting between Netanyahu and Tamano-Shata was a routine talk to discuss the coronavirus crisis.

Talk of a new round of elections, which would be the fourth in under two years, is at a fever pitch as the Likud and Blue and White parties remained mired in an impasse over the state budget.

Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting is expected to be canceled, which would mark a new low for the governing coalition.

MK Pnina Tamano-Shata attends a Knesset committee meeting on July 12, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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