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As Midnight Deadline Approaches, Knesset Looks to Sidestep Elections

Israel is holding its breath as the final hours before the midnight budget deadline tick away, after which the country will be hurled into a fourth election cycle in 18 months. On Sunday night Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claimed he had agreed to a compromise by which the Cinderella-like scenario could be averted. According to the proposed settlement, the budget deadline would be delayed by four months, as would all decisions regarding the appointment of law enforcement officials – police commissioner, attorney general, and state attorney – all positions currently vacant or set to be in the coming weeks. Netanyahu, whose trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust has already begun, had hinted at his desire to personally oversee such appointments, a move that is both contrary to the pact signed with the Blue and White party and vehemently opposed by its head, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. It now remains to be seen whether the prime minister is indeed interested in avoiding a general election, at least temporarily, or whether Sunday’s address was merely part of the blame game played by both sides. By midnight, parliament will have had to pass the amendment postponing the budget deadline. If both sides have reached an understanding, that will be the case.