Knesset Approves Two-year State Budget

MKs pass bill by 63 votes to 27 following opposition filibuster that lasted all night.

The Knesset approved Tuesday a bill to allow the first two-year budget in Israel's history.

63 Members of Knesset voted to pass the second and third readings of the bill, while 27 lawmakers voted against, following an opposition filibuster that lasted through the night.

The budget will now have to be passed by July 15 or new elections will be called.

The cabinet had hoped all three readings of the bill would be approved on Monday, after unanimously approving the two-year budget on Sunday.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz put forward the proposal that the 2009 and 2010 budgets be approved by the Knesset at the same time and together as a single package.

Steinitz told the cabinet the new two-year budget reflects the emergency economic situation and the need to formulate an overall economic plan to end the recession and lay the foundation for future economic growth.

At the initiation of Meretz chairman Haim Oron, the opposition filibustered the motion, presenting hundreds of reservations against the law in a series of speeches that lasted from Monday night until the arrival of Netanyahu and other ministers at the Knesset on Tuesday morning, when the second and third readings were put to the vote.