Coalition Success in Israel

After years of political uncertainty, Naftali Bennett’s coalition government strengthened its position this week by passing budgets for 2021 and 2022. This is the first time in more than three years that the Knesset has approved a national budget.

The final vote came in the early hours of Friday morning after a marathon series of votes which gave some members of the parliament significant problems with fatigue. Nevertheless, the votes have removed concerns over another national election, as the governing coalition overcame both its own internal differences and the objections of opposition parties.

The 2021 budget was approved by a majority of just one, with 61-59 MKs voting in favour, along party political lines. The 2022 budget was approved by 59 MKs with 56 voting against.

Coalition members joyful about passing budgetCoalition members joyful about passing budget (photo: BICOM)

Coalition partners expressed both joy and relief that the budget passed, with Naftali Bennett saying:

“This is a day of celebration for the State of Israel. After years of chaos.
We formed a government, overcame the Delta variant, and now, thank God,
we have passed a budget for Israel. We’ll keep going, full steam ahead.”

Yair Lapid, Israel’s Foreign Minister said:

“We took responsibility and kept our promise.”

If the budget had not been passed by 14th November, the current Knesset would have automatically dissolved and new elections been held. So, Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said:

“The budget brings certainty to Israel.”

Mansour Abbas noted one historic meaning of the budget’s approval:

“This good news gives citizens hope. This is the first time that an Arab party plays
a central role in passing a budget and establishing a coalition. This is an important step
in the process of political integration, the realisation of the right for civic partnership and
the taking of collective responsibility for the benefit of all citizens, Arabs and Jews.”

As to be expected, the opposition were not happy about the budget, with Shas Party Chairman Aryeh Deri saying:

“The government of the self-satisfied passed a bad budget that is entirely a brutal
and deliberate blow to the elderly, the weak, the residents of the periphery,
and families with lots of children.”

One sign of fatigue among members of the Knesset was Labor member Emilie Moatti mistakenly voting against part of the budget late on Thursday. That error set progress on the bill back by several hours. But she was not the only one to make a mistake.