Israel’s Coalition Government Collapses

A last-minute effort to keep Israel’s coalition government in power has failed because the Knesset did not pass a state budget by midnight on Tuesday. The country will now head into its fourth election within two years, with the vote expected to take place in March 2021.

The Knesset’s Speaker, Yuli Edelstein, made the official announcement at midnight and urged politicians to “avoid escalating tensions” which are already running high in the country due to its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A largely empty KnessetA largely empty Knesset (photo: Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

David Horovitz, writing in the Times of Israel, described it as an ‘unconscionable decline into its fourth general election in two years.’ He thinks it is almost certain to end the brief, unhappy career of Benny Gantz, who ‘jettisoned most of his Blue and White alliance’ in order to form the coalition with Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party.

There has been constant tension between the two, with Israeli commentators concluding that Benjamin Netanyahu was doing everything in his power to prevent Benny Gantz becoming Prime Minister, despite their ‘rotation’ agreement.

It is those tensions that gave rise to the problems with passing a state budget as written into the coalition agreement. The government made an 11th-hour attempt to avoid yesterday’s failure with a bill to allow more time to produce a budget.

But against expectations that bill was voted down and the two leaders blamed each other for the failure. Benjamin Netanyahu accused Benny Gantz of reneging on his agreements and Benny Gantz replied that the prime minister’s remarks were “more lies than words.”

It was several members of the Knesset who rebelled against their parties’ leadership that caused the 11th-hour attempt to fail. It seems that they had finally had enough of the political manoeuvring and decided to bring the coalition arrangement to an end.

The whole situation has been quite emotional for some of those involved, such as former Likud MK Sharren Haskel. She announced to her Facebook followers today that she will change over to the New Hope party formed by Gideon Sa`ar for the new election.

With tears falling from her eyes, Haskel said she was raised on the Likud Party’s values but the events of the past year proved there was too wide a gap between those values and what the party implemented.