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Israel’s Blue & White Backs Down From ‘Anti-Bibi’ Bill Ultimatum

Israel’s Blue & White Backs Down From ‘Anti-Bibi’ Bill Ultimatum

Less than an hour before the expiration of an ultimatum issued by Israel’s alternate prime minister, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, in an attempt to force Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s hand on the budget, Gantz has backed down. With the prospect of going to a fourth round of elections in the fall if Israel does not pass a new budget by August 25, Gantz demanded of Netanyahu: Vote to extend the budget deadline until December 3 or Blue and White will support a bill that bars anyone indicted of serious crimes from forming a government. Netanyahu has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, and should the bill pass, he would not be eligible to serve as prime minister in a new government. But at the last minute, Gantz’s party announced that it would not support the so-called “anti-Bibi bill,” which is sponsored by Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, when it comes up for a vote in the plenum on Wednesday. Blue and White said in a statement, “All the bill would accomplish is destabilizing the political system even further. At this time of one of the worst crises in the history of the state, we decided to do everything possible to prevent elections that would bring about an economic disaster and tear Israeli society apart.” The state budget deadline extension bill will also come up for a preliminary vote in the plenum on Wednesday. Its sponsor, Derech Eretz party MK Zvi Hauser, said, “The only question about my bill is whether to punish the public by enabling elections that they don’t want and would cost NIS 5 billion.”

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