Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will likely call early elections next month as controversy continues over the Jewish nationality bill and other measures — and as the second-largest political party, Yesh Atid, fights for control of the government.
The prime minister has slammed the 2015 budget proposal advanced by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, chairman of Yesh Atid, saying the budget would hurt the IDF and jeopardize Israel’s security.
A bill proposed by Lapid to drop the VAT (sales tax) to zero was also criticized by Netanyahu, who said the plan would “waste billions, won’t lower the cost of housing and will help only contractors who are close to Lapid advisers.”
More to the point, Netanyahu maintained Lapid is blocking him from governing the country effectively — and said new elections were preferably to the “back room deals” he said were sabotaging his leadership.
“The coalition will only survive if I can govern,” he said Friday. “I’m not sticking to my chair. I was chosen to run the country and the nation as I see fit but I cannot run the country this way. If Yesh Atid and Lapid continue their irresponsible behavior it will be right to go back to the voters.”
In response, Lapid told an audience at a cultural event in Tel Aviv that Netanyahu had not spoken to him in the past month. “Housing reforms are stuck, the budget is stuck, our international relations are deteriorating. Insteading of passing the budget and dealing with these issues [Netanyahu and his advisers] are dealing with petty politics,” he complained.
Other politicians are also gearing up for what appears to be an inevitable drive towards early elections.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, chairman of Yisrael Beytenu, has released a diplomatic plan to Hebrew language dailies — but Liberman had started his political posturing already during this past summer’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge.
Former social services minister Moshe Kahlon also held a rally as part of preparations to form a new political party and he too has been making statements to media in what clearly appears to be preparation for elections.
Hareidi religious political parties are holding talks with all sides in order to see who will give them the best deal, as usual; United Torah Judaism has long had a handshake with Yisrael Beytenu, trading local votes for favors in small towns and cities throughout the country. In return, it is likely a similar deal will come into play at the national level when early elections are held.