Bennett-Lapid draft coalition deal says government will fall if budget isn't passed

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The draft coalition agreement between the Yesh Atid and Yamina parties says that if the government fails to pass a state budget within 100 days after its formation, the government will collapse and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid will not succeed Yamina’s Naftali Bennett as prime minister.

The rotation agreement, which was reviewed by Lapid and Bennett Sunday evening, is based mainly on a similar accord between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz in the current government. However, it makes several changes to ensure that it is honored.

Sources involved in the talks said both sides were acutely aware of the budget issue, which brought down the Netanyahu government, and that the agreement is ultimately based on trust between Lapid and Bennett. However, Yesh Atid is reportedly seeking defense mechanisms that would go into force in the latter part of Bennett’s term as prime minister on the assumption that if the agreement is going to be violated, it won’t happen in the government’s first few months.

Under the current draft of the coalition agreement, as prime minister, Bennett must pass a second state budget before he is scheduled to hand over the post of prime minister to Lapid on August 27, 2023. If that budget hasn’t been approved by the deadline, Lapid would take over as prime minister and have three months to get it passed under his leadership. If he fails, the government falls and Lapid stays on as caretaker prime minister for six months.

The coalition agreement also states that if at least two lawmakers from Bennett’s bloc vote to dissolve the government, Lapid would automatically become caretaker prime minister. There was a similar clause in the Netanyahu-Gantz government’s agreement, but it set a higher number of Knesset members from Netanyahu’s government to vote for the government’s dissolution to preserve the rotation as planned.

The Netanyahu-Gantz government was dissolved in late December 2020. According to their coalition agreement, which included rotating the premiership between Netanyahu and Gantz, the government would collapse if a budget was not passed. After Netanyahu’s Likud rejected Gantz’s demands – including passing the budgets for 2020 and 2021, filling vacant senior governmental positions and receiving a guarantee that the rotation agreement will be honored – the Knesset voted not to postpone the budget deadline, thereby sending Israel to its fourth round of elections in about two years.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin said Friday that he intends to announce to the Knesset plenum on Monday that Lapid has succeeded in forming a government. This means that the government will be sworn in by the following Monday at the latest. The Bennett and Lapid face a deadline of 24 hours before the government is sworn in to finalize their agreements.