Cabinet okays 2-year budget, drawing opposition criticism
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Cabinet okays 2-year budget, drawing opposition criticism

Netanyahu says move will improve fiscal stability, but Zionist Union MK calls it an ‘economic terror attack’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly government meeting in Jerusalem on July 17, 2016. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly government meeting in Jerusalem on July 17, 2016. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

The cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal to allow the treasury, for the first time, to advance a two-year budget.

The move will go into effect for the budgets of 2017 and 2018, but will not include a mechanism that would have automatically updated the budget in line with Finance Ministry forecasts, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had originally wanted. Instead after the first year, the budget will be reviewed and amended as needed, and government spending adjusted accordingly.

Netanyahu, who has been pushing for a biennial budget, said the move would shore up the economy.

“This law will strengthen economic stability and will improve the functioning of government offices,” said Netanyahu ahead of the cabinet meeting.

“Economic stability, controlling spending, lowering taxes, reforms on competition — these are things the finance minister and I are working on, along with government ministers, to the benefit of the Israeli economy and Israel’s citizens,” he added.

The passage drew jeers from the opposition, including Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel, who called it an “economic terror attack” and accused Netanyahu of having nefarious motives.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon seen during a faction meeting on July 11, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon seen during a faction meeting on July 11, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“The prime minister did not push through the biennial budget out of concern for Israel’s economy, but out of concern for his political survival. He is doing everything to hide difficult figures — a dozens of percent drop in exports, the high tech crash of, no new factories, and 60,000 business that have closed,” he said, according to the Walla news site.

The Yesh Atid party, led by former finance minister Yair Lapid, also condemned the move as “dangerous.”

“Although it has been proved that a biennial budget harms the state’s economy, the government has decided to approve it today under the headline of economic stability,” the party said in a statement.

“The biennial budget endangers the Israeli economy and represents a blow to the Israeli market, which at any rate is slowing and has low growth — and every Israeli citizen will feel it in their pocket,” it said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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