Deadline for preventing elections Tuesday night

Advancing the deadline by a day will make it even harder for a compromise to be reached between Likud and Blue and White to prevent the election.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the Knesset plenum, December 12, 2020. (photo credit: DANI SHEM TOV/KNESSET SPOKESPERSONS OFFICE)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the Knesset plenum, December 12, 2020.
(photo credit: DANI SHEM TOV/KNESSET SPOKESPERSONS OFFICE)
Likud and Blue and White can still reach a compromise to prevent elections  on March 23, sources in both parties said on Wednesday.
Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar checked with the Knesset’s legal advisers to determine what would need to be done to prevent the Knesset from being dissolved automatically if the 2020 state budget is not passed.
Sources in Blue and White said they were not aware of Zohar’s efforts. They said the only way to keep the government together would be for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to commit to honoring the coalition deal that requires a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office in November.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White), hinted in a speech at a Hanukkah lighting ceremony at the Western Wall that he wanted the unity government to continue, saying that he was “praying in his heart for the light of unity.”
“Especially now, what is needed of us is national responsibility,” Ashkenazi said. “We must work for unity and not for divisiveness and polarization among our people.”
The deadline for passing the 2020 state budget and avoiding early elections is Tuesday night at midnight and not Wednesday night at midnight as originally thought, the Knesset’s spokesman announced on Wednesday.
The Knesset’s legal advisers ruled that the December 23 deadline for passing the budget, which was set in a bill passed in August, must be interpreted to refer to the first moment of that day and not the final second of the day. The bill in August postponed the deadline for passing the budget by 120 days.
Advancing the deadline by a day will make it even harder for Likud and Blue and White to reach a compromise to prevent the election. Both parties have reported that no progress has been made in talks between them.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz rejected Likud’s demand to fire Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn. He said his party was committed to protecting the legal establishment, so that demand was out of the question.
“We should avoid elections and let this government function – with budgets, planning, and appointments to key positions,” Gantz said at Wednesday’s Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute. “I hope the prime minister steps up, but I’m prepared for elections too.”
It seems that Likud and Blue and White cannot even unite to set an agenda for a cabinet meeting as a meeting set for Thursday was postponed for the fourth time this week. When the cabinet does meet, passing the budget could be on the agenda.
The budget would have to be passed three more times in the plenum and two more times in the Knesset House Committee to prevent an election from being set automatically for Tuesday March 23.