Compromise proposal gives hope of avoiding elections

Blue and White backs down from "anti-Bibi-bill" * Finance Minister: Pass budget now despite extending deadline.

Knesset meeting to pass bills to create coalition government on May 6, 2020 (photo credit: ADINA WALLMAN)
Knesset meeting to pass bills to create coalition government on May 6, 2020
(photo credit: ADINA WALLMAN)
In a potentially dramatic development, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed on Sunday night to grant the Likud's support for initial votes in the Knesset on a compromise proposal that could prevent holding a fourth election in 19 months.
The proposal, sponsored by MK Zvi Hauser (Derech Eretz), would postpone the deadline for passing a state budget from August 25 to November. The bill is expected to receive permission from the Knesset House Committee on Monday or Tuesday and be brought to a vote in the plenum by Wednesday.
In a speech to a Union of Local Authorities conference on Monday, Netanyahu said a functioning government was necessary combat the corona as quickly as necessary.
"When Hauser asked me to give stabilizing the government another chance to help fight the coronavirus, I said I am ready," Netanyahu said. "I think every effort must be made to prevent elections, stabilize the government, fight corona and open the economy."
The prime minister's support came after a conversation with Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) and Hauser.
“This is a very important step of goodwill, but it is far from being a solution to the problem,” Levin told Army Radio on Monday morning.
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party released a statement welcoming what it called the Likud’s recognition of the need to uphold political and social stability in Israel.
"Blue and White will do everything in its power to spare the people of Israel deleterious elections during one of the gravest crises in the country's history," the party said. "We will support amendments to the existing law that ensure the allocation of funds to rehabilitate our economy. Citizens of Israel deserve utmost reassurance and stability at this time, and we will continue acting to that end."
Shas leader Arye Deri also announced on Sunday night that his MKs would back the compromise proposal, guaranteeing its passage.
After the compromise passes in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, Blue and White is expected to back down from its support for a controversial bill, sponsored by opposition leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid-Telem) that would prevent a prime minister indicted for serious crimes from forming a government.
The so-called "Anti-Bibi Bill" would apply to Netanyahu, who has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach and trust. With the support of Blue and White, Shas and United Torah Judaism, the bill would have passed easily; without their support, Yesh Atid might be forced to withdraw it.
If the bill would come to a vote and fall, it would not be able to be raised for six months, taking away key ammunition against Netanyahu.
Finance Minister Israel Katz (Likud) told KAN Radio on Monday morning that even if the deadline for passing the budget is extended, the budget should still be passed as soon as possible, in order to enable the transferring of funds to the school system in time for the start of the school year.