As the battle over Israel’s next budget intensifies within the coalition, the heads of the ultra-Orthodox parties said Thursday they will not cooperate with “any initiative to advance the elections.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing for a short-term three-month budget plan while Defense Minister Benny Gantz has maintained the budget should be biennial - as stipulated in the coalition agreement.
According to Israel’s Basic Laws, a newly-formed government has to pass a budget within 90 days of its establishment, which in this case would be August 25. If the government doesn’t pass it by then - parliament will disperse and a snap election will automatically be called, Israel's fourth in little more than a year.
“Passing the state budget is a must,” Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Construction and Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman and United Torah Judaism co-leader MK Moshe Gafni said in a joint statement.
“The citizens of Israel are facing difficult, health and economic problems during these days, and the very thought of going to the polls at this time is complete madness," they wrote.
Still, they did not specify their position on which budget should be passed.
The two further urged Netanyahu and Gantz to show “national responsibility and reach an agreement.
The defense minister’s Blue & White party replied in a statement that “the citizens of Israel will not forgive he who drags the state to elections in a medical and economic emergency period… we must pass an annual budget as all Israeli economists recommend.”