A defiant Benny Gantz said Thursday that he does not regret voting to end the government of which he is a part, calling for the apparently inevitable fourth round of elections in two years to take place by the end of February.
"I preferred to pay the price myself rather than inflict it on Israelis," the Blue & White leader told Ynet, a day after the bill passed its preliminary vote in the Knesset.
Gantz said he has instructed the chairman of the Knesset House Committee - Blue & White MK Eitan Ginzburg - to attempt to set a date for the next election as early as possible, "so that we don't have a drawn out and expensive campaign during a health crisis."
Coronavirus restrictions may require more than one day of voting that would increase costs the defense minister said, adding that funding "should come out of the budget given to the political parties for elections."
Gantz also lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his speech hours after the preliminary vote on the bill, dismissing his allegations about Blue & White violating their joint coalition agreement and his claims of defense, diplomacy and healthcare successes.
"Netanyahu did not utter one word of truth during his entire speech yesterday," Gantz said. "Blue & White never violated the coalition agreement," he added, challenging the prime minister to present an example if he had one.
"The fact that there is no budget is a financial crime committed only because Netanyahu refuses to leave the Prime Minister's residence and fulfill his commitment to a rotation," Gantz said.
"No one can say I did try in earnest, to work with the prime minister," he said adding that the budget has been ready in the Finance Ministry, claiming the prime minister continues to block its approval for irrelevant reasons.
The defense minister has instructed his party's leadership to explore the possibility of forming an alternative government with alliances with opposition factions, before the final reading of the bill triggers the dissolution of parliament and fresh elections.
The party has also proposed some legislation in line with their platform, including a bill to extend the right to surrogacy to same sex couples.