Defense Minister and Blue & White party head Benny Gantz is meeting with Finance Minister Yisrael Katz on Sunday evening, in an apparent attempt to reach an agreement on the state budgets for 2020 and 2021.
Outwardly, Gantz is hardening his position on the issue, which has consistently been that Israel needs to pass the budget for both years together and soon – otherwise the government will fall. However, in closed discussions he is still apparently hoping for a last-minute deal that could avert elections, even though he admits that the chances of attaining that goal are low and dwindling.
According to a report on Kan 11 News, Gantz told several of his close associates that the meeting with the Likud Finance Minister would not lead to any decisions being made, and that he had no real expectation that a solution would be found. Gantz also allegedly stated that despite his pessimism, he was still making every attempt to avoid elections, as they would be an absolute disaster for the country if they were held.
On Saturday evening, Gantz was interviewed on Channel 12 News, and said that, “Either a budget is passed, or we head to elections.” He added that, “If we end up going to elections, it will be due to Netanyahu and the way he has behaved. If it hadn’t been for him, we would have had a budget a long time ago already. He has wasted the past half year – and it’s quite obvious that he’s not going to manage to pass a budget in the next week.”
Gantz added that, “I had hoped that he would rise to the needs of the day, but I don’t believe anything Netanyahu says anymore.” When he was asked how he rated the chances of averting elections, he answered with a question of his own: “You tell me – what are the chances that Netanyahu is going to pass a budget?”
Despite Blue & White’s relatively poor showing in recent polls, Gantz insisted that, “We’re going to be the biggest party after elections – the next government will form around the Blue & White party.” He added that, “Running together with Lapid on a joint party list is not an option right now. There’s no chance of cooperating with Lapid in a single party. I need to lead the camp, and Lapid is not capable of establishing a government.”