Gantz: Violence against demonstrators could lead to civil war

Blue and White leader insists on two-year budget, bringing chances of new elections closer in face of Netanyahu’s demands for one year budget

Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks in Knesset on June 29, 2020 (photo credit: NOAM MOSKOWITZ)
Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks in Knesset on June 29, 2020
(photo credit: NOAM MOSKOWITZ)
Alternate Prime Minister and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz decried the assault of protesters at an anti-government rally Tuesday night, and said such incidents could lead to civil war.
In an interview with Channel 13 News broadcast on Wednesday night, Gantz also dug in on his insistence that only a two year state budget be passed and not a one year budget as demanded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, heightening the possibility of new elections if no budget is passed by August 25.
“Violence against protesters could lead to civil war, we must stop this hate and incitement, neither side can engage in this hatred of the other,” said Gantz in the interview.
He mentioned that “Rabin was not murdered because of hatred on the left,” but said that circumstances have changed since those times and that neither “anarchists” on the left or “extremists” on the right should be allowed to spread hate and incitement.
Turning to the current impasse over the state budget, and reports that Finance Minister Israel Katz will bring a one-year budget for approval by the government next week before passage to the Knesset, Gantz insisted that only a two year budget is acceptable.
The coalition agreement between Blue and White and Likud states explicitly that a two year budget must be passed, but Netanyahu is insisting on passing just a one year budget, which would give him his last opportunity to topple the government, at the end of March 2021, without passing the premiership over to Gantz.
If a budget is not passed by August 25 then the Knesset will automatically be dissolved and new elections called.
Gantz said that the agenda of the cabinet can only be determined jointly by Likud and Blue and White, meaning that his party would block a one-year budget from being brought before the cabinet for a vote.
The alternate prime minister said that a one-year budget would essentially be a three-month budget for the end of 2020, and said that it would not help bring about economic or social stability.
He also said that he expected the ultra-Orthodox parties United Torah Judaism and Shas to stand by their guarantees that they would ensure Netanyahu does hand over the premiership to Gantz in accordance with the coalition agreement.
Asked if he would back legislation to stop Netanyahu running as prime minister while on trial if elections are called, Gantz avoided answering and said merely that he was working to ensure political and economic stability.
He also insisted that he would continue to lead Blue and White if new elections are called, amid speculation that former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkott may be brought in to lead the party.