President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday said it's unthinkable to postulate another elections, while Israel "counts its dead" as coronavirus epidemic continues to surge.
A stand-off between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz over the passage of the state budget threatens to trigger Israel's fourth election in a little over a year amid an economic crisis fueled by the pandemic. On Monday, the two agreed to move the deadline for budget approval, originally set for August 25.
Rivlin said the possibility of a fourth election will be a "painful and unforgettable blow" to Israel.
“I won’t restate the warnings which you know well, I will just say this, as a citizen of this country – [election] is not an option," Rivlin said following a meeting with Communications Minister Yoaz Handel.
"It cannot be that we continue to deal with this as if it were a logical option, while we are counting our dead," Rivlin said, referring to the record number of coronavirus-related fatalities.
"If you take us there, you, the elected officials of whatever party, if you take us to that dreadful nadir, you will inflict on this country a hard, painful and unforgivable blow. Beware of it.”
Netanyahu is seeking a short-term budget to last until the end of the year, while Gantz has insisted on the multi-year budget laid out in the coalition agreement they signed in April.
In what appears to be a gesture of goodwill, Blue & White announced the party will be absent from Wednesday's Knesset vote on a bill tabled by for opposition leader Yair Lapid, which aims to bar any individual under indictment from being able to form a government.
Netanyahu is currently on trial after being charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.