Opinion: Despite all the anger and disdain inside Knesset, the country is eventually set to do away with Netanyahu’s negligent administration, which for two years — amid pandemic-induced economic crisis — refused to pass a budget
The day of voting on a new state budget has always been a celebratory day in Knesset.
Knesset plenum (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
A state budget allows the government to jump-start its policies and reforms for millions of Israeli citizens, with opposition lawmakers also usually ending up pleased to a certain degree, given that they always receive their share of the pie.
Today, that is no longer the case.
After 22 months without a budget or thorough economic plan, and nearly 44 months since the approval of the last spending bill, a specter of gloom and vitriol haunts the Knesset’s halls.
The parliament’s cheerless disposition began on Tuesday afternoon, with seemingly endless debates ahead of the vote on the first state budget since 2018 — set to be the priciest in Israel’s history at NIS 609 billion, with a hefty arrangements bill to boot.
Following an order from Benjamin Netanyahu, all opposition MKs refused to take part in the approval of the budget ahead of the plenum vote, due to what they claim was a “disproportional representation” in the parliamentary committees.
Despite all of this, at the end of the day, Israel is set to do away with the negligent administration of the former prime minister, which for two years and amid a global recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, refused to pass a budget.
Even if the opposition today acknowledges that the state cannot function without a budget, its 59 members will do all they can to torpedo the vote. If the bill fails to pass in the plenum, the coalition has ten days to reintroduce the bill.
And now we reach the NIS 609 billion question: Is this budget good for Israel?
First, just the sheer fact that a budget is being approved is good on its own and things like retirement homes and facilities for at-risk youths can finally be budgeted.
On the other hand, new reforms like the plastic tax, may help the environment, but it will likely be a heavy burden on large families.
The next several hours will be nerve-racking for the coalition. A 61-59 majority for the budget is a very dangerous situation. But as I am writing this, it is expected that Israel will wake up on Friday morning to a new budget after such a long and abysmal time without it.