An early election will be "irresponsible" and "very bad" for Israel at this time, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Sunday morning.
"I joined a cabinet, alongside Labor, in order to prevent a fourth election," Gantz told Army Radio. "I am not afraid of it, I have participated in three already, but I believe that at this point Israel should be taken away from an election."
Gantz's statement came following a threat by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to initiate an election if an annual budget is not approved this week. While Netanyahu and the majority of his Likud Party support an annual budget, Gantz's party, Blue and White, alongside several members of Likud itself, support a bi-annual one.
"I intend on bringing the budget [for a vote] as early as within a week, Netanyahu said Friday, according to N12. "Despite the opposition of Blue and White, if they want an election it is their problem."
Gantz refused to say whether Blue and White will oppose an annual budget. According to the minister, his allies in the government "will do everything in our power to prevent a fourth election at this time."
He added the most critical issues for Israel at this point are the coronavirus outbreak, the economic crisis, the divisions in Israeli society and the state's security.
"Iran spreads terrorism and arms across the Middle East - to Syria, Lebanon, Gaza," Gantz told Army Radio. "A nuclear-capable Iran is something we cannot allow, and we will prevent that by all means necessary."
When asked whether Israel was involved in a recent series of explosions on Iranian nuclear sites and power plants, the minister said he "cannot confirm or deny [Israeli involvement] in one incident or another."
Gantz added that he "supports separating from the Palestinians," endorsing the peace plan of US President Donald Trump. He added that the right way to apply Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank is "through getting the US on board and dialog with the Palestinians."
Israel "should not look for shortcuts" when it comes to the annexation. Right now, we need to address the huge crisis we are in," Gantz continued.
"There is a Palestinian entity. What do Israelis want?" he said. "Most cannot take the risk of a non-demilitarized Palestinian state, but most do not want to rule over the Palestinians."
Maariv Online contributed to this report.