Katz makes long shot pitch to pass budget, stop election

If Knesset does not pass budget by Wednesday 12:00 a.m., legislature will automatically be dispersed, launching new election.

Israel's Finance Minister Israel Katz (photo credit: SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Israel's Finance Minister Israel Katz
Finance Minister Israel Katz made a last-minute effort to stop the impending election, asking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow the 2020 state budget to go to a cabinet vote on Sunday.
If the Knesset does not pass the budget by 12:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 23, the legislature will automatically be dispersed, launching a new election, which is, at this point, the most likely scenario.
Should Netanyahu follow Katz’s suggestion, it would give lawmakers less than three days to complete a process that normally takes months.
At the same time, the 2020 budget, which Katz submitted to the cabinet on December 7, would be much more limited than any budget passed before, in that it would only apply for seven days. The truncated budget came as a result of a political compromise made in August, the original date on which the budget was supposed to pass, 90 days after the government was formed.
Katz also asked Defense Minister Benny Gantz to support his proposal and continue discussions on a budget for 2021, the final date for which — after a postponement allowed by law — would be March 31.
Gantz stopped talks about the 2021 budget, because he supports going to early elections, even though the Finance Ministry has the Economic Arrangement Bill, which is passed in tandem with the budget, and market reforms already prepared for next year, Katz said.
“You're avoiding supporting the budget and dragging Israel to an unnecessary election because of political arguments is irresponsible on a national level, and is a direct attack on the economy for the citizens of the State of Israel,” Katz said, addressing his remarks at Gantz.
The Finance Minister pointed out that Israel is on the verge of a third coronavirus lockdown and amidst the operation to distribute vaccines.
“Israel…needs a stable and strong government that works for the citizens of Israel, while getting us out of the health, economic and social crisis, and we all must rise above and prevent an expensive, damaging and unnecessary election,” he stated.