Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz has launched a sharp attack against his coalition partner, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, accusing him of “endangering the economic future of the country.”
According to a report in Yediot Aharonot, Gantz is on the brink of deciding to break up the coalition over the ongoing budget dispute, saying that, “If he [Netanyahu] does not pass a budget, it will constitute a crime against the State and its citizens.”
“Every single Israeli economist – including the Governor of the Bank of Israel, senior financiers, and senior officials in the Treasury past and present – agrees that the 2021 budget must be passed,” Gantz stated, adding that, “the Likud party has not managed to explain to the citizens of this country why it is apparently unconcerned with their future welfare and only worries about its own interests – to the extent that it has consistently failed to advance the budget for the coming year.”
This is hardly the first statement Gantz has made that is sharply critical of Netanyahu; two weeks ago, Gantz gave an interview centering on the Submarine Affair (in which the Prime Minister is possibly implicated), during the course of which he said that he was “looking into the possibility of establishing a commission of inquiry into the matter.”
Yediot Aharonot also reports that in private conversations and internal briefings with his confidantes, Gantz has accused Netanyahu and the Likud party of being motivated by political considerations rather than the welfare of the country. “The conduct of the Prime Minister on the matter of the budget is destroying the country’s economy,” he fumed, noting that, “professionals from the Finance Ministry themselves are saying that the budget can be advanced and passed. His reasons for delaying are both puzzling and disturbing. It’s hard to believe that Netanyahu doesn’t realize that it will cause tremendous damage to the country if the budget isn’t passed. This will be the third year without a budget, and the Israeli economy will suffer from this for years to come, and struggle to recover from the impact, due to Netanyahu’s decision to sell out the welfare of the country for political considerations.”
Gantz was also quoted as telling those close to him that he has not ruled out the possibility of attempting to form an alternative coalition with parties from both the opposition and the coalition, in order to avert elections, even if he has to agree to the temporary appointment of his former political partner and now rival MK Moshe Yaalon (Yesh Atid-Telem) as Prime Minister, under such a scenario. “Boogie [Yaalon], elections, dismantling [the coalition], building [a new coalition] – these are all options,” Gantz said. “There are things going on quietly, under the radar, and there is a variety of options to consider even within the current composition of the Knesset. One thing is certain,” he stressed. “We in the Blue & White party know that to continue like this without a budget will cause greater damage to the Jewish People than elections would.”
Meanwhile, MK Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, stated on Wednesday morning that he would support the establishment of a coalition headed by MK Moshe Yaalon.