Jerusalem, 24 May, 2023 (TPS) — Following a marathon debate in the Knesset plenum, lawmakers approved a two-year state budget on Wednesday morning, averting the possibility of early elections.
At the end of a 36-hour discussion, after many hours of voting on various provisions, the final vote concluded at 6:00 AM.
The final vote passed 64-56, with lawmakers voting along coalition lines. The state budget for 2023 will be 484 billion shekels ($130 billion) while the budget for 2024 will be 514 billion shekels ($138 billion).
“This is a good budget, it will serve the citizens of Israel,” said Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich after the final vote.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid blasted the budget, saying “This government is terrible for the economy. It said it would reduce cost of living, there’s nothing connected to cost of living in this budget. There is no reform to reduce the cost of living.”
Failure to pass a budget by May 29 would have automatically dissolved the Knesset and triggered Israel’s sixth election in under four years.
The Knesset is not required to pass another budget for 18 months.
With the budget passed, Netanyahu said the government would return its focus to a controversial judicial reform initiative.
Legislation advancing through the Knesset would primarily alter the way judges are appointed and removed, give the Knesset the ability to override certain High Court rulings, restrict the ability of judges to apply standards of “reasonableness,” and change the way legal advisors are appointed to government ministries.
Supporters of the legal overhaul say they want to end years of judicial overreach while opponents describe the proposals as anti-democratic.