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Likud Finance Minister Threatens Elections as Budget Fight Escalates

Israeli Finance Minister Israel Katz has warned that the country is headed for another general election if his Likud party’s coalition partner, Blue and White, does not agree to a one-year budget. Blue and White leader and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz insists on passing a budget for the next two years, as was agreed upon by the two parties in their coalition pact. “If [Blue and White Justice Minister Avi] Nissenkorn doesn’t amend the law so that a one-year budget can be passed by August 28, we will go to an election,” Katz threatened on Thursday. The previous day, the Likud found a surprising ally in opposition leader Yair Lapid, Gantz’s former political partner. After a meeting with Katz, Lapid announced his support for a one-year budget, saying it would enable the government to address the current economic crisis and adapt as the situation requires. “This is not a political issue, but a financial one”, Lapid explained. Gantz’s camp fears that if a new round of budget negotiations is held in a year’s time, Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will use the opportunity to dissolve the coalition and seek re-election before he is forced to relinquish the prime ministerial chair to Gantz under the rotation pact.