Knesset Approves State Budget in First Reading

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett seen with Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid during a vote on the state budget at Knesset, Thursday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Knesset on Thursday approved the framework of the state budget in its first reading.

The bill earmarking funds cleared the plenum, which must also vote on the Arrangements Bill to determine how allocation will be implemented. 59 MKs back the framework, while 53 opposed it.

After giving initial approval to the state budget framework, the Knesset is expected to debate the Arrangements Bill — the detailed legislation allocating the resources — throughout the night.

Coalition negotiations are still taking place up until the last moment, with the parties resolving several disagreements but a key dispute remaining between Meretz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party over a regulatory reform that is included in the Arrangements Bill.

Meretz has expressed concern that the reform, meant to streamline bureaucracy, will benefit business and industry at the cost of public health and the environment.

Failure to pass the pair of budget bills in three readings in the Knesset plenum by a Nov. 4 deadline would automatically dissolve parliament and trigger elections.

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu voted from behind a glass partition on the Knesset plenum balcony, being that he recently returned from a vacation abroad, and under the current health rules must self-isolate for a week. These rules are set to change Friday, when those vaccinated with the booster, such as Netanyahu, will be exempt from quarantine.