Early on Friday morning, the state budget for 2022 was approved in the Knesset in its final reading, with a majority of 59 votes. Fifty-six lawmakers voted against the budget.
Many ministers celebrated their success on Twitter. “Last night we put Israel back on the right track. Finally a budget,” wrote Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The last time an Israeli government managed to pass a state budget was three-and-a-half years ago, in January 2018. Because of the political crisis in Israel, which required four elections within two years, the Likud government had always been reluctant to pass a budget for one reason or another. Mainly so as not to anger their allies in increasingly unstable coalitions.
בוקר טוב ישראל – יש תקציב🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/Dq64cQuJYJ
— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) November 5, 2021
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu complained that he had passed numerous budgets during his long tenure as prime minister, but had never seen one so terrible as the current budget. In addition, Netanyahu accused his successor, Bennett, of having passed the state budget only with the help of Mansour Abbas’ Islamist faction Ra’am. “Hamas will certainly be happy when the budget is passed in the Knesset,” stressed Netanyahu and his Likud party time and again. They fear that funds from the budget for the Arab population will find their way to Hamas. According to the new government’s plan, the Arab sector in Israel will receive 32 billion shekels from the state budget over the next 10 years. Years ago, Netanyahu and his Likud Party promised the Arabs a similar amount of funding (50 billion shekels), but never implemented it or passed it in the Knesset.
“After three-and-a-half years we have a budget,” tweeted Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman. “Finally, after months of hard work, we have completed our mission together and presented a socially responsible budget to all the citizens of Israel. We will continue to adhere to our mission, ignoring narrow-minded opinions and bringing good news to all citizens of the country.”
“I see the adoption of the budget as a victory for the country, but also as a personal victory for me,” commented Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “Those who acted out of personal motives and caused great damage to the country and its citizens are in the opposition, and those who care for the citizens of Israel are in the coalition today.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid: “We have taken responsibility. We kept our promise. We have approved a budget for the nation and citizens of Israel for the year 2022.”
The opposition condemned the passing of the state budget. “The evil coalition just managed to pass an evil and cruel budget that holds no mercy and no good news for anyone except cats, Reform Jews and extremist organizations,” tweeted the Orthodox party United Torah Judaism. In case you’re confused, it referred to a part of the bill regulating the neutering of stray cats on the streets of Israel. The issue of the Jewish character of the State of Israel is also no longer in their hands. Now the Reform Jews in Israel will have far more say, and from the perspective of Orthodox rabbis that’s just as bad as putting power in the hands of Messianic Jews. Neither Reform nor Messianic Jews are seen as Jews by these parties.
“The government harms the weak and poor through tax increases and strict regulations,” charged the other major Orthodox party, Shas, which slammed the budget for allegedly harming the elderly, families with many children and residents on the periphery. The fact is, however, that this time the Orthodox parties are not in the governing coalition, which they have been used to up to now. Now they’ll get a smaller budget for their Orthodox communities.
With the agreement on the state budget, the fragile government coalition, which consists of eight completely different parties, has overcome a dramatic hurdle. She’s got room to breath for the next 12 months. True, it will not be easy for the coalition to hold together with right, left and Arabs parties trying to find a way forward together. But as long as Benjamin Netanyahu remains the opposition leader, this should be all the motivation they need. They must stick together, otherwise King Bibi will make his return. See: Israel’s Government Urgently Needs a Motivational Push
Now we have to wait and see how the right-wing bloc and Likud react after the state budget has been approved. Likud members are already quietly demanding that Netanyahu finally give up his position and let a new generation take charge of the party.