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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu accepts compromise, avoids election

www.business-standard.com

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he has accepted a proposal to extend budget negotiations, preventing the government from collapsing and plunging the country into a new election

Israeli Prime Minister announced on Sunday that he has accepted a proposal to extend budget negotiations, preventing the government from collapsing and plunging the country into a new election.

In a nationally televised address, Netanyahu said that now was not the time to drag the country into an unwanted election.

Now is the time for unity. Not for elections, he said.

Netanyahu and his rival and coalition partner, Benny Gantz, had faced a Monday night deadline to agree on a budget. Otherwise, the government would have collapsed and automatically triggered a new vote, the fourth parliamentary elections in less than two years.

Netanyahu said that following a historic agreement to establish official relations with the United Arab Emirates, and with the country struggling with a coronavirus outbreak, he felt it was wrong to to go to elections.

He said he accepted a compromise that would give the sides an additional 100 days to reach a budget deal, and in the meantime direct spending to struggling areas of the economy and society.

His announcement came after Israeli lawmakers spent much of the day unsuccessfully trying to agree on a compromise.

The current political crisis pitting the prime minister against rival-turned-partner Gantz is ostensibly over the country’s national budget.

But the crisis has deeper roots in the troubled partnership between Netanyahu and Gantz, economic troubles stemming from the country’s coronavirus outbreak and the prime minister’s ongoing corruption trial. Critics accuse Netanyahu of using the budget battle to force a new election in hopes of securing a friendlier parliament that could help solve his legal troubles.

After three deadlocked elections, Netanyahu and Gantz reached a power-sharing agreement in April to form a government to address the virus crisis. As part of their coalition deal, Netanyahu’s Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White agreed to pass a two-year budget.

But Netanyahu has insisted on passing a budget to cover only the remainder of 2020, saying it will provide immediate assistance to the economy. Gantz is adamant that the government honor its agreement and pass one for 2020 and 2021. Their disagreement has again brought the…

AP

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