A 4th election? ‘It can’t go on like this,’ Netanyahu says amid coalition tensions

Cracks are appearing in the unity government as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud Party squabbles with Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party over parliamentary procedure.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Coalition partners are playing power politics in Israel’s parliament, raising tensions in the national unity government on issues other than the upcoming contentious annexation of settlements, Kan News reported Tuesday.

Members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party are furious over what they claim is Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn’s blocking of legislation they want to table.

Cyber Affairs Minister David Amsalem of Likud said not only was Nissenkorn, a member of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party, vetoing proposed legislation in committee, but he was also refusing to allow any debate on the new laws.

“I’m not ready to continue like this,” Amsalem said. “I will lose out on legislation that is important to me. I will not shut up anymore.”

Gantz called a caucus meeting late Monday to try and calm his members, saying “every step we take will be responsible and discretionary. ”

“I am not getting excited about the reports that there are crises in the coalition,” Gantz said. “It is natural that there are disagreements in the unity government and we have to take everything in proportion.”

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For his part, Netanyahu reportedly told Amsalem to “give it back” to Blue and White. “As much as he can veto our laws, you will veto their laws. You can veto, too.”

But Amsalem retorted, “I have nothing to veto. They have no laws. They have no members who are submitting bills. I have no way to veto. I declare that it cannot continue like this anymore. We have to get back at them. It is leading to an explosion. ”

Apparently furious at the behavior of Blue and White, Netanyahu said in a closed Knesset conversation that “it can’t go on like this” and said he would meet Gantz to straighten things out.

The two had met Sunday to discuss changes to the coalition agreement that was approved only a month ago. Netanyahu wanted new wording to change the existing law that specifies in case parliament is dissolved within its first six months in office and the country goes to elections, the position of prime minister would not be automatically transferred to the replacement prime minister – which would be Gantz – for the transition government and the election campaign.

Due to the fears the Supreme Court might strike down a change to the law, Netanyahu wants the coalition agreement changed so that even if the government falls after its first six months in office, the Knesset would be dissolved without transferring power to Gantz.

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On Tuesday, Blue and White officials said that they approved the proposal, but with a quid pro quo that Likud agree to changes to other laws not included in the coalition agreement, Israel Hayom reported.