Blue and White to endorse dispersing Knesset on Wednesday

Netanyahu: The Likud will vote in favor of unity

Israel Katz chats with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel Katz chats with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Blue and White will vote in favor of opposition leader Yair Lapid’s proposal to disperse the Knesset and initiate early elections on Wednesday, a source close to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said on Monday night.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent an olive branch to Blue and White at Monday’s Likud faction meeting, stressing the importance of maintaining the current national unity government ahead of Wednesday’s vote on dispersing the Knesset.
Without mentioning Gantz’s party, Netanyahu said that on Wednesday, the opposition will “try to drag Israel to unnecessary elections, but the Likud will vote against dispersing the Knesset and in favor of unity.”
Netanyahu said the Likud backs maintaining the current unity government in order to fight the novel coronavirus, help the economy and bring about more peace agreements.
“The people of Israel deserve a government that will work not for elections and not for politics but for them,” Netanyahu said.
Blue and White responded that “the public is done buying Netanyahu’s lies.”
“If you were not on trial, there would be a budget,” the party said.
Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, who ran against Netanyahu for leadership of the Likud, told Channel 13 on Monday that “when I see how the government is functioning, going to elections is not such a bad thing.”
Gantz told his faction he would make a final decision on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning regarding how to vote on dispersing the Knesset. If Lapid’s Knesset dispersal bill passes its preliminary reading on Wednesday, it would still have to pass three times in committee and three more times in the plenum to become law.
Labor leader and Economy Minister Amir Peretz together with Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Itzik Shmuli announced that they would vote in favor of dispersing the Knesset on Tuesday morning.
"It is not possible to continue to have a government whose most permanent thing is uncertainty, especially regarding the budget that is taken captive by the Prime Minister due to personal considerations," they said. "We are doing everything to serve Israel citizens, who today, need more than ever to create jobs, move the economy and deploy a real social safety plan that is not possible without a budget. Instead of constant paralysis and an exchange of accusations, it is better to dissolve the Knesset and to go the polls now."
Lapid expressed optimism on Monday that Blue and White would help him pass it. In a meeting of his Yesh Atid-Telem faction, Lapid reached out to his former political allies in Blue and White.
“In 48 hours, we will bring to an end the worst government in the history of the country,” Lapid said. “I say to Blue and White: What’s in the past is in the past. Let’s do the right thing, together. It’s time to stop being Netanyahu’s accomplices. You had good intentions; it didn’t work. Now it’s time to make amends.”
Lapid said that if Blue and White will support his bill, “in 48 hours this government will be on its way home and Israel will be on a new path.”
Blue and White announced earlier Monday that it would present three bills opposed by the Likud: One advancing the rights of gay men to adopt children in Israel, another that would add guarantees of equality to the Nation-State Law and a third that would legislate Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
Army Radio reported earlier Monday that Finance Minister Israel Katz (Likud) has drafted a compromise that could be used to end the dispute between the Likud and Blue and White over the 2021 state budget.
According to the proposal, the 2020 and 2021 state budgets would be presented together to the cabinet for approval next week and then advanced separately in the Knesset. The 2020 budget would be passed into law by the December 23 deadline and the 2021 budget by February.
Gantz is demanding that the 2021 budget be passed by the end of the year.
A spokesman for Katz and a spokeswoman for the Finance Ministry both said they were unaware of such a compromise.
Katz formally presented the NIS 426 billion state budget for 2021 to Netanyahu on Monday.
Another reported possible compromise would have Blue and White agree to extend the deadline for passing the budget in return for a bill that would require Netanyahu to enable the rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office to take place next November.
 A third compromise idea being floated would be to vote on 90% of the budget by Gantz’s end-of-the-year deadline, but leave the remainder of the budget not passed in order to satisfy Netanyahu.
The coalition agreement states that if Netanyahu initiates an election, Gantz would become caretaker prime minister, unless the government falls over not passing a budget. If the budget is not entirely passed by the end of March, Netanyahu would be caretaker prime minister and elections would be held when he wants them – in June.