(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) urged the other chairmen of parties in Netanyahu’s coalition Sunday to enable the quick passage of the 2019 state budget, in order to allow the next election to be held on time in November 2019.
Speaking in a meeting of coalition party heads, Netanyahu and Kahlon said no new projects would be added to the budget and urged them to accept the Finance Ministry’s proposal as is. Kahlon said he wanted to pass the budget by early January in the cabinet, in order to ensure that the Knesset passes it in to law before its spring recess begins in March.
“This budget is going to have to be passed on auto-pilot,” Kahlon said.
Finance Ministry officials have warned that if the budget is not passed in the first quarter of 2018, it would be too difficult to pass it later on, because coalition parties would be too eager to use the budget to attract voters in the upcoming election.
The budget does not need to be passed by law until March 31, 2019.
But Kahlon wants the budget for the rest of the current Knesset’s term to be set as far in advance as possible.
There had been speculation that Netanyahu might try to advance the next election to May 2018, following high profile celebrations of the state’s 70th independence day.
World leaders are set to come to the event, in which Netanyahu will be the major speaker, despite the tradition of the independence address being given by the speaker of the Knesset.
Advancing the election could postpone a decision by Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit on whether to indict Netanyahu on corruption charges. But sources close to Netanyahu have said he wanted the election held on time in November 2019 and that any suggestion otherwise was incorrect.
The other coalition party heads who attended the meeting also said they wanted the election held on time.
The prime minister will face a challenge on Monday when he must answer questions from Knesset members, at the request of 40 opposition MKs.