With the coalition facing a crisis over the haredi parties’ refusal to support the budget unless a draft bill granting exemption from military service is passed first, and the shadow of corruption allegations hanging over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, independent MK Orly Levy-Abekasis said Tuesday that she intends to launch a new political party.
“Elections are in the air. I am founding a new party that I will head to represent the public without fear or favor,” Levy-Abekasis said at the annual Sderot Conference for Society. “I am the best option as I have no wealthy friends, I never had any and I have no intention of acquiring any,” she added in a reference to the cronyism scandals plaguing the prime minister and his inner circle.
Levy-Abekasis, the daughter of former foreign minister David Levy, was first elected to the Knesset in 2009 running on the Yisrael Beiteinu list. She served in the 18th, 19th and 20th Knesset and was deputy speaker of the parliament in her first term. Levy-Abekasis rose to number two on the Yisrael Beiteinu list for the March, 2015 elections, but left the party in May of the following year, claiming that it had failed to pay enough attention to social affairs. She has since remained in the Knesset as an independent MK.
Levy-Abekasis said she would be submitting the paperwork to found the party on Wednesday.
In other Knesset related news, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon threw his hat into the brewing coalition crisis Tuesday when he warned that he “could not carry on as finance minister if the budget is not passed by the end of the Knesset session.”
With the session ending March 15, two weeks before the Passover holiday, Kahlon threatened that “the people of Israel would sit down for Passover night with a budget or without a finance minister.”
Kahlon’s comments come amid an ongoing crisis over the budget with the United Torah Judaism party threatening not to vote in favor unless a law exempting Yeshiva students from military service is passed.
“There is no logic in tying the draft bill to the state budget,” Kahlon said. “I call on my colleagues to wake up; if the budget has not passed by the end of the Knesset session I will personally recommend to my Kulanu party members to resign from the government.”
A compromise solution proposed by Likud whip David Amsalem to pass a preliminary reading of the draft bill before the budget, with coalition members, with the exception of Yisrael Beiteinu – which has said it will not support the bill – committing to pass it in the summer session, has been rejected by the haredi parties. Late night negotiations between UTJ and Kahlon’s Kulanu party also failed to hammer out a solution.
On Monday, Yisrael Beiteinu leader and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reportedly told a closed-door meeting at the Knesset that to say he was not willing to accept cuts to the defense budget and would recommend to his Knesset colleagues not to support it.