Likud leadership candidate Yuli Edelstein blasted incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend for suggesting that the current government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid could last longer than expected.
“We will return quickly and fix things,” Netanyahu said at a conference of local authorities, and that Likud’s return “could take two weeks or three and a half years.”
Edelstein responded that the obstacle preventing the Likud from returning to power is Netanyahu himself.
“So even though the Right has 72 mandates, we are supposed to sit and wait in the opposition for three and a half years and let the Left destroy the Jewish state?” Edelstein asked. “We will not let this happen. We must already break up this disastrous government now!”
Netanyahu intends to push Likud MKs to find cracks in the coalition over the next two weeks that could prevent the state budget from passing, enable the government to fall and initiate an election.
Sources close to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked denied a KAN TV report on Saturday night that the final hurdle toward passing the budget had been removed. According to the report, agreements had been reached between Shaked and Ra’am (United Arab List) about funding for municipalities in the Arab sector.
Voting in the cabinet will proceed on Sunday on a five-year, NIS 53 billion plan for funding the Arab sector.
A controversial bill of Ra’am (United Arab List) MK Waleed Taha will be passed by the coalition in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday and by the Knesset in the days after, following his threats to prevent the passage of the state budget and initiate an election.
Taha, who chairs the Knesset Interior Committee, canceled all of its meetings for this week, which were set to legislate part of the economic arrangements bill that accompanies the state budget. He said he would not convene the committee, because the coalition is not advancing a bill that would enable Arab and Bedouin homes built illegally to be connected to electricity.
Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben-Gvir accused Bennett of “surrendering to terror supporters.” He also blasted Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ram Ben-Barak (Yesh Atid) for returning a Muslim aide to work who was accused of meeting with terror supporters.
Likud MK Miri Regev raised an uproar in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday when she called Ben-Barak, who is a former deputy head of the Mossad, “a hater of Israel.”
In an interview with Channel 13 on Saturday night, Regev said that despite criticism from inside her Likud faction, she stands by her criticism of Ben-Barak and would not apologize.
“He is no longer in the Mossad,” she said. “He is now a politician, and I don’t trust a man who employs someone who meets with terror supporters.”