Coalition MK Predicts Budget Will Pass

YERUSHALAYIM -
Knesset Speaker Miki Levy, of the Yesh Atid party. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) said he thinks the coalition will have sufficient vote to pass the state budget by the November 4 deadline.

“The budget will pass — we have 61 votes, maybe 62,” he told Channel 12, probably referring to rebel Yamina MK Amichai Chikli, who has taken an independent line, and will not necessarily vote with the opposition.

Levy was evasive on the question of whether they were counting on support from the Joint Arab List party, not a coalition member but supporting it from outside.

“I don’t know, I am not involved in the negotiations,” he said. “The budget will pass and it’s a good budget.”

Levy’s comment comes after Meretz and Labor voiced their opposition to Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman’s proposals for regulatory reform, threatening to withhold their votes if the measures aren’t deleted. Liberman hasn’t responded to their objections publicly, but if it comes to that, the coalition will not have the votes to pass the budget, and another round of elections would automatically follow by law.

Earlier this month the cabinet approved the budget, Israel’s first in three years, but now comes the hard part: navigating it through committees and three readings in the Knesset plenum, with the opposition fighting it all the way.

Opposition leader Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu has said he would “leave no stone unturned” in seeking to prevent the budget from passing.

The two-year state budget allocates $187 billion for 2021 and $173 billion for 2022, and includes controversial reforms of state kashrus supervision, the agriculture industry, steep taxes on disposable plasticware and sugary drinks, and changes to import policies.

Other major reforms include the gradual raising of the retirement age for women to 65 over the course of 11 years, at a rate of four months a year for three years, and three months a year for a further eight years.