Yesh Atid withdraws motion to dissolve government, slamming Blue and White

Opposition party accuses former ally of not abiding by its own ultimatum to trigger new elections over failure to pass state budget

Yesh Atid head MK Yair Lapid speaks at the Knesset plenum on October 28, 2020. (Shmulik Grossman/Knesset)
Yesh Atid head MK Yair Lapid speaks at the Knesset plenum on October 28, 2020. (Shmulik Grossman/Knesset)

The opposition Yesh Atid-Telem Knesset party announced on Wednesday morning that it was withdrawing its bill to dissolve the Knesset which had been set for a plenum vote later in the day, slamming former ally Blue and White for not following through on its own ultimatum for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pass the state budget by the end of October.

Yesh Atid said in a statement that “Blue and White again prevented the government from falling and kept Netanyahu in the leadership. We’ll be back next week.”

Under the coalition deal between the parties, Likud, led by Netanyahu, and Blue and White agreed to pass a budget running through 2021. Netanyahu, however, is now insisting on separate budgets for 2020 and 2021, with a failure to pass a budget allowing him to avoid handing over the premiership to Blue and White chief Benny Gantz, as he is required to do under their power-sharing deal.

While Likud has insisted that the failure to pass the budget stems from professional difficulties and lack of cooperation from Blue and White, a top ally of Netanyahu’s in the party acknowledged last month that there were political considerations behind the foot-dragging.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, on July 5, 2020. (Amit Shabi/Flash90)

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid announced last week his intention to again submit a bill to dissolve the Knesset, taking a swipe at Blue and White, which had threatened that the government could disband if a budget is not approved soon.

“I have no doubt of course that this time Blue and White members will honor their word,” he said sarcastically at the time.

Blue and White appeared unlikely to back Lapid’s proposal, as by doing so, Gantz would forfeit his chance of becoming prime minister in the rotation agreement with Netanyahu.

Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz, right, and Yair Lapid, left, share a laugh during a faction meeting at the Knesset on October 3, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

According to Channel 12 news, members of the core founding faction of Blue and White, originally the Israel Resilience party, met at Gantz’s home on Sunday night and decided not to immediately take the country to the polls.

However, according to the unsourced report, the prevailing feeling in Blue and White is that Netanyahu is not interested in the continued functioning of the government and that the Knesset will in any case be dissolved on December 23, the deadline for a new budget.

The right-wing opposition Yamina party had said earlier this week that it would back the no confidence bill, accusing Blue and White of trying to “obscure their capitulation” by not acting on the ultimatum.

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