Knesset Passes State Budget, Stabilizing the Bennett-Lapid Coalition

After a marathon session in the Knesset, the Bennett-Lapid government passed the first budget in Israel in over three years, significantly strengthening the coalition's stability

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Members of the Knesset celebrate as state budget passes for the first time in 3.5 years
Memebers of the Knesset celebrate as state budget passes for the first time in 3.5 yearsCredit: Knesset Spokesperson
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

The Knesset approved the 2022 budget Friday, giving Israel its first budget in over three years and cementing the political stability of the Bennett-Lapid government.

The Knesset began the process of approving the 2021-2022 budget on Tuesday, and narrowly passed the 2021 budget on Thursday  following a long overnight session

The budget for 2021 is set at 432.5 billion shekels ($137.8 billion), rising to 452.5 billion in 2022.

Mebmbers of the coalition celebrating passing of state budgetCredit: Ibtisam Maraana Twitter

"Tonight we got Israel back on track," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted after the vote. Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid said "We took responsibility. We fulfilled the promise. We passed the 21-22 budget for Israel and its citizens."

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who was designated to replace Benjamin Netanyahu in the previous rotation government said that this was  a personal victory. "I feel immensely proud to be a leading part of this government and extremely proud that we finally got Israel back on track," he added.

Vote tally on state budgetCredit: Knesset Spokesperson

On Thursday, One of the budget's clauses, which touches upon the building of classrooms, was struck down and returned to the parliamentary Finance Committee for discussions.

Due to one coalition lawmaker's absence, the Knesset voted 59-59 on the clause, meaning that it did not pass. Labor MK Emilie Moatti tweeted afterwards: "My mistake, I fell asleep for two hours."

The clause was sent back to the Knesset Finance Committee. The committee ended its deliberations after which the full Knesset reconvened to vote on the remaining clauses of the budget bill.

Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted afterwards, "The opposition can keep trying. We will not give up on an additional budget for building classrooms. Giving up on classrooms means giving up on the next generation of the State of Israel. We will vote on the clause again and pass it."

The Knesset began its deliberations on Monday, after two years during which Israel went without a new budget. At the beginning of the session, the chairman of the Finance Committee, Alex Kushnir (Yisrael Beiteinu), presented the budget bill, and was followed at the podium by the heads of other Knesset committees involved in preparing the bill, as well as Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman. 

“The budget is replete with reforms meant to aid weaker segments of society, to deal with the cost of living and to create engines of growth,” said Kushnir. Lieberman said “the very fact that a budget was brought forward within 142 days of forming this coalition shows that we’ve been working.”

Memebers of the coalition pose for a photo after passing state budgetCredit: Knesset Spokesperson

The Knesset’s legal adviser, attorney Sagit Afik, said the bill is larger and more comprehensive than any budget bills presented in the last 20 years. She said some key reservations had been raised, adding that the opposition should be given adequate time to present them.

The coalition had defined the vote as a “military operation,” since any dissenting member of the coalition could forestall the process and upend the schedule. Coalition whip Idit Silman (Yamina) and her backup Boaz Toporovsky (Yesh Atid) have drawn up detailed guidelines for Knesset members to minimize the chance of a delay in the budget’s approval. For instance, they’ve asked lawmakers to take light meals to prevent drowsiness, and to wear light clothing.

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