Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formed a team to
handle negotiations on the 2013 state budget Sunday in an effort to determine
whether he can avoid the early election that would have to be held if the budget
does not pass on time.
Netanyahu sent the director-general of the Prime
Minister’s Office, Harel Locker, and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin to Yisrael
Beytenu and Shas to try to draft a majority for the budget, which legally must
pass in the cabinet and be submitted to the Knesset by the end of
Based on the results of the talks, Netanyahu will make a
decision during Succot on whether to advance the election to January or February
or to pass the budget and hold the race as scheduled in October
Sources close to the prime minister strongly denied contradictory
reports in the anti- Netanyahu newspaper Yediot Aharonot that he had already
decided to go to the polls and in the pro-Netanyahu Israel HaYom newspaper that
he expected to pass the budget and avoid an election.
speculate however they choose, but it won’t change the fact that the prime
minister has not yet made a decision,” said a source close to Netanyahu who has
discussed the question of early elections with him.
received advice on both sides from Likud ministers and his closest advisers. His
decision is expected to be affected by his talks on preventing the
nuclearization of Iran in New York just as much as by the deliberations with
Yisrael Beytenu and Shas in Jerusalem.
Both parties have reported to Netanyahu’s representatives that they do not want early elections to be held but
that they have red lines. Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman told Israel
Radio that holding an election would not affect the economy, which depends on
exports to markets in Europe and the US that are not doing as well
“I am not among those who think the next election is
unavoidable,” Liberman said. “The attempt to pass the budget should not be
avoided. It’s not easy or comfortable to pass a budget in an election
year, but responsibility requires it.”
Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich
complained that in a normal year, the budget is drafted by September, but now
government ministries do not know how to plan.
“Everyone is walking like
blind people in the dark and I can’t even begin to describe the economic damage
this causes,” Yacimovich said.