Gantz Agrees to Last-Ditch Meeting to Resolve Coalition Crisis

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli protesters wearing masks of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, Wednesday. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

With a bill to disperse the Knesset pending a final vote, the coalition partners were still trying to overcome differences in order to avert a fourth election in two years.

Defense Minister and Blue and White chair Benny Gantz said Thursday that he is planning to meet with Finance Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) next week to see if they can come to terms on the state budget, which has ostensibly been the main cause of coalition friction.

“Finance Minister Katz has reached out to Defense Minister Gantz, requesting a meeting to present a budget for 2020-2021. The two are expected to meet sometime next Sunday,” Gantz’s spokesperson said.

The meeting comes after an emotional speech in the Knesset this week in which Gantz called the prime minister “a serial breaker of promises” and that he could no longer work with him in the government.

“The economic terror attack you’re perpetrating against Israeli citizens while an economic, medical and social crisis is raging shows you’ve lost it,” he said.

“If there was no trial, there would be a budget. If there was no trial, there would be unity,” he said.

However, at the end of the speech, he held out a last hope for averting elections, if Netanyahu would act now to pass the 2020-2021 budget as agreed to in the coalition deal.

“I will do all I can so that the country will have a budget and so that I can continue to serve it,” Gantz said.

Gantz and his Blue and White party members voted with the opposition’s no-confidence motion, which passed in a preliminary reading.

Katz, however, said that Gantz’s speech shouldn’t be taken too seriously, that he was “playing politics,” and subsequently asked for the meeting.