Israel passes first budget in 3.5 years

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 told reporters in the Knesset that he was proud that Israel finally had a budget.

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 Deputy Prime Minister Yair Lapid, not Bennett.

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 deputies who mistakenly voted with the coalition, including opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on 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.

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.

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

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