i24 NEWS exclusive: Senior Likud figures in talks to join Blue & White if gov’t collapses over budget

Benny Gantz and Binyamin Netanyahu (File Photo).

Senior B&W officials tell i24 News they hope the ‘integrity’ of their Likud colleagues will help ‘avert a crisis’.

Senior officials within the Blue and White party told i24 NEWS that their colleagues were engaged in talks with four senior Likud figures to avert a brewing coalition crisis over a looming budget vote that threatens to take Israel to yet another general election.

Moreover, the sources also told i24 NEWS that Blue and White parliamentarians were trying to convince the Likud politicians to jump ship to the Benny Gantz’s centrist party should Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu force an election.

According to the Blue and White officials, Netanyahu,  who is currently on trial for multiple corruption charges, is seeking a fourth election within under two years in order to “evade justice.” They said they counted on the integrity of their Likud colleagues to “avert a disaster” for Israel.

Netanyahu vehemently denies all wrongdoing.

With 18 days left to the budget vote and no agreement in sight between the Likud and Blue and White parties, the tension within Israel’s governing coalition is hitting fever pitch. Netanyahu has threatened to dissolve the coalition should Gantz persist in the opposition to the premier’s proposed short-term budget covering only the rest of 2020.

Gantz, the Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister in a rotational arrangement with Netanyahu, insists on a two-year budget as agreed in the coalition agreement the two signed earlier this year.

Gantz fought Netanyahu tooth and nail in three inconclusive elections within 12 months.

The rivals eventually agreed on a center-right coalition with each man holding equal status and bearing the newly-minted title of “alternate prime minister.”

Gantz, a former army chief, is, under the terms of the coalition deal, due to take over as prime minister in November 2021, with Netanyahu serving as his alternate.

(i24 News).

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