Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz Photo by Tess Scheflan
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet on Friday approved the state budget for 2011-2012, by a majority vote on 20-5. Yisrael Beiteinu ministers opposed the proposal, while Shas abstained.

Netanyahu hailed the budget as "responsible and balanced," adding that "any deviation from the budget means harming the pubic. The budget balances between educational, social and security needs."

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz expressed satisfaction over the approval and said that the government has chosen to give preference to a budget that supports welfare, health and education and that it will enable a stable market.

Ahead of the vote, Netanyahu mediated between the finance ministry and the defense ministry, who were in disagreement regarding the cut in the defense budget.

The two agreed eventually that the defense budget would only be cut by NIS 2.7 billion, marking an accomplishment for the finance ministry, despite its demand for a NIS 4 billion cut.

Netanyahu also raised the retirement age for military personnel to at least 50. The average retirement age for Israel Defense Forces career officers is currently 42.