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Israeli coalition government reaches budget agreement at eleventh hour

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Israeli coalition government reaches budget agreement at eleventh hour

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Photo: Amit Shabi/POOL

Ahead of Tuesday night’s deadline, the two major parties in Israel’s coalition government—Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Alternate PM Benny Gantz’s Blue and White bloc—reached a last-minute compromise, preventing the government’s collapse.

On Sunday, Netanyahu announced his acceptance of a proposal to extend budget negotiations following President Reuven Rivlin’s stern warning that Israelis feel “cheated and suspicious” regarding the prospect of a fourth election in under two years.

Many Israelis worried that Netanyahu would torpedo negotiations and force another election in hope that a new Knesset would be more sympathetic towards his demand for immunity from indictment on corruption charges. Gantz—who is slated to assume the premiership in November 2021—expressed hostility towards the idea, with protests likewise calling for Netanyahu’s resignation.

Despite the respite, expect heightened political turmoil in the months to come. Gantz and Netanyahu are at loggerheads over key issues ranging from judicial appointments to annexation of the West Bank. Likewise, Gantz’s criticism of Netanyahu for sidelining him and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in the making of the historic peace deal with the UAE may cause further friction. Furthermore, ominous signs regarding the state of Israel’s democracy have begun to emerge as anti-Netanyahu protests have sparked the use of intimidation, violence and the PM’s demonisation of the media.

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Photo: Reuters

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