Smotrich’s War Budget Approved

The Cabinet meeting. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The war budget proposed by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich was approved overnight Monday during the Cabinet meeting. Despite opposition, the budget includes allocations for chareidi education. Following its approval in the government, the revised budget will now go to the Knesset Finance Committee and then to the Knesset plenum. 

In the course of the meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lent his support to Smotrich, dismissing the allegations raised against the budget for chareidi education.

Smotrich told ministers at the meeting, “I think that everyone agrees on 99% of this budget, both on the sources and on the applications. It may be that there are those here who find this or that item uncongenial, ministers who would like a little more for their ministries because it really is needed, that’s fine. In the end, though, I think that this is very important to the sense of unity and solidarity that we should all convey here to the citizens of the state of Israel.”

Tensions ran high during the discussions. Former Education Minister Shasha Biton confronted current Minister Yoav Kish, questioning his ability to discern which teachers are criminals. Kish asserted that he could, leading to Biton labeling him a liar.

Minister of the chareidi Ministry of Education Chaim Bitton (Shas) intervened in support of Kish, accusing Shasha Biton of spreading falsehoods. Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi also addressed Shasha Biton, questioning her apparent bias against chareidi teachers.

Amidst the heated exchange, Kish directed his frustration toward finance officials involved in the discussion, accusing them of neglecting their responsibilities and diverting funds from the education system.

Welfare Minister Yaakov Margi interjected, asserting that every teacher is academically qualified, prompting Benny Gantz to leave the meeting abruptly.

However, Economy Minister Nir Barkat vehemently intervened, expressing anger over the diversion of NIS 500 million from the economy budget and its purported impact on the Israeli economy. Smotrich, unfazed, dismissed Barkat’s claims, emphasizing that the ongoing discussions would shape the foundation of the next budget.

Commenting on the extension to the term of Governor of the Bank of Israel Amir Yaron, which was approved at the meeting, Netanyahu said, “I am sure that everyone will also back the decision on the governor’s appointment. It broadcast to the markets that all in all we are responding in the best possible way to the war in which we find ourselves.”

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