Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is openly raising the possibility that he will not cede his seat to Defense Minister Benny Gantz as per a rotational agreement.
In a preview of an interview with Channel 20 news set to air later Monday, Netanyahu is asked whether Gantz will be prime minister.
“That depends on him. If he will stop leading a faction that is a government within the government, a government against the government, that argues with us on every matter, that delays budgets, budgets and other things, he will be prime minister. If not, it will break apart on him,” Netanyahu says.
Under a coalition between Netanyahu and Gantz, the Likud leader has to give up his seat after 18 months, or if the coalition collapses. However, if the government falls because of budget issues, Netanyahu would remain as interim prime minister, which has led to speculation that the premier is attempting to bring down the government by using a dispute over the scope of the budget.
Some in Gantz’s Blue and White party have also expressed concerns that Netanyahu may simply refuse to honor the agreement. Simmering bad blood between the two has broken into the open in recent days over the budget issue.
Netanyahu has consistently insisted that he has no intention of keeping Gantz from becoming prime minister, making this the first time he has publicly said he could prevent him from becoming prime minister.