Israel passes budget after 3.5 years, ensuring government stability

The Knesset approved the 2021 state budget in a 61-59 vote at 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning, giving Israel a new budget for the first time since March 15, 2018.

When the vote was announced, the coalition deputies applauded and hugged each other with joy. After the vote, the deputies went to sleep for a few hours and will resume voting later on Thursday on the Economic Arrangements Act and then the 2022 budget.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised the approval of the budget and wrote on Twitter that he was proud that Israel finally had a budget.

“Israeli citizens are waking up to a holiday,” he wrote.

The budget was to be signed into law by November 14 to prevent the Knesset from automatically dispersing, which would have started elections in February.

Under the coalition agreement, now that a budget has been approved, if elections begin for the remainder of the term, the interim prime minister will be Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and not Bennett.

The Arrangements Act, which includes key reforms, including raising the retirement age for women, a congestion tax in the Tel Aviv area, and kosher certification reform, was also passed Thursday in a 61 vote. to 57.

The coalition made no mistakes in an overnight marathon voting session on budget clauses and amendments tabled by the opposition.

Netanyahu delivers a speech before the budget vote in the Knesset on Wednesday night. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

But there were opposition MPs who wrongly voted with the coalition, including opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who raised his hand in favor of a budget clause at 1 a.m. Shas leader Arye Deri also voted with the coalition by mistake in a vote. Netanyahu and Deri are two of the oldest Knesset deputies.

Mocking his own wrong vote with the coalition, Netanyahu wrote on Twitter: “It happens that people get confused when they vote. Ask everyone who voted for Bennett.”

Netanyahu met with individual members of the coalition in an effort to persuade them to vote against the budget and bring down the government. Apparently, he did not succeed.

Yamina MK Abir Kara told Army Radio on Thursday that officials from the Likud Party and other opposition factions had approached her and offered almost everything except a rotation. “It’s not tempting. We managed to do the unthinkable with six terms.”

Not only did the 61 members of the coalition remain united on Wednesday night, but the Joint List announced that it would not vote for the amendments proposed by the Likud and other right-wing opposition parties, which will facilitate the defeat of the coalition. them.

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