Coalition chair Zohar: Likud not obligated to rotation deal with Gantz

Finance Minister Katz says 2021 budget only ready for review by December, meaning 2021 budget deadline would be missed again.

Israel Katz chats with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel Katz chats with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Likud is no longer obligated to fulfill the terms of the prime ministerial rotation deal with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, and Blue and White does not have legitimacy to lead the country, Coalition Chairman MK Miki Zohar (Likud) said Sunday.
Later on Sunday, Finance Minister Israel Katz said the 2021 budget would be submitted to the government for review by December, meaning it would not be passed by the December 23 deadline.
This was merely another attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek elections without handing over power to Gantz, Blue and White sources said.
“Elections are an excellent option now,” Zohar told 103FM, adding that Blue and White had breached coalition agreements, thereby obviating its right to the rotation deal in the coalition agreement that established the government.
When asked why Likud does not push for elections if it is not scared of the possible results, he said: “I agree completely. Elections are an excellent option.”
Whether there will be elections would be decided on December 23, the deadline for the government to pass a budget, Zohar said. Currently, it seems the country is headed for elections, he said.
Blue and White should pass a budget for 2020 so that the government could begin working on a budget for 2021, Zohar said.
“To pretend to be the ones who will prevent Netanyahu from becoming prime minister, from the height of their seven seats, is no less than pathetic and embarrassing to me,” he told 103FM.
“They want to pass the budget not out of considerations for the good of the citizens of the State of Israel, but to ensure that [Alternate Prime Minister] Benny Gantz enters the position of prime minister,” Zohar said, adding that although the two parties signed a rotation agreement, Blue and White is “not entitled to the agreement because they themselves have not kept the agreement until this moment.”
Blue and White violated the rotation agreement and lost public legitimacy to lead the state as a party that holds only seven seats, he said, adding: “They attack the prime minister and the Likud from morning to evening, they violate the coalition agreement every week by voting against the coalition’s positions, [and] they work for assigning officials in violation of the coalition agreement without coordination with the Likud.”
Zohar did not say the agreement was void, but he stressed that the Likud’s commitment to it had decreased since its alleged violations by Blue and White. The Likud has not broken the agreement at any point, he said.
Regarding the budget, Netanyahu has strongly resisted passing a biennial budget for 2020 and 2021 as required under the coalition agreement, ostensibly because it would mean there would be no possibility of preventing Gantz from becoming prime minister in September 2021.
The coalition agreement stipulates that a two-year budget covering 2020 and 2021 be approved. But Netanyahu has said the COVID-19 crisis means that the 2020 budget will be passed by itself, even though less than three months of the year now remain.
Following a severe coalition crisis in August, the deadline for passing the 2020 budget was postponed until December to give more time for the government to resolve its differences. But Netanyahu is still insisting on a one-year budget.
Yesh Atid-Telem is expected to present a motion of no-confidence in the government on Monday and wants to establish a new government without elections.
The motion proposes that opposition leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid-Telem chairman) be prime minister and foreign minister, MK Moshe Ya’alon (Telem head) be defense minister and that the rest of the ministerial positions be filled by Yesh Atid-Telem MKs.
The motion has little chance of passing since no majority for such a move is believed to exist.
MK Zvi Hauser, whose Derech Eretz faction split from Blue and White, said Lapid was “trolling” the country with his motion and should “move on with the next trick.” His two-man faction would have nothing to do with the Joint List of Arab parties, he said.
There are indications that some Likud members are becoming dissatisfied, as seen by Katz’s criticism of Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, the resignation of Netanyahu’s political foe MK Gideon Saar from the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and the insistence by Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut Mayor Haim Bibas that a state budget for 2021 pass even if it means Gantz becomes prime minister.
But there is little chance that any Likud MKs will vote in favor of a no-confidence motion on Monday.
And Yamina leader MK Naftali Bennett has no interest in forming a new government within the current Knesset, given that he currently controls five seats but is polling at over 20 seats.