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Government reportedly pushing to move up 2023-2024 budget vote to May

The initiative, said to be the brainchild of Minister Ze’ev Elkin, would provide the coalition with more security and get a major hurdle out of the way early

Knesset members attend a plenum session and a vote on the state budget in the Knesset in Jerusalem, November 3, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Knesset members attend a plenum session and a vote on the state budget in the Knesset in Jerusalem, November 3, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

After passing a state budget for the first time in more than three years in November — for both 2021 and 2022 — the governing coalition is seeking to get a head start on the 2023-2024 budget, a TV report said Wednesday.

According to Channel 12 news, the government plans to move up a vote on the next two-year budget to May in order to send a message about the stability of the current coalition. New Hope’s Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin is said to be the one behind the initiative.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid are reportedly in favor of the initiative, and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman is also expected to come on board.

One reason for such a move was said to be getting the budget through while all coalition MKs remain on board and are relatively united.

Another was in order to separate the issue entirely from the date on which Lapid is slated to take over as prime minister under the rotation deal with Bennett, which comes in August 2023.

In November, the Knesset passed both the 2021 and 2022 budgets with razor-thin approvals in the highly divided Knesset. The approval gave a boost to the unlikely ruling alliance of eight ideologically disparate parties.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R) speaks with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, December 5, 2021. (Emil Salman/Pool/Flash90)

The passage of the legislation helped shore up the government’s stability after years of political crises that saw the Knesset fail to pass a national budget for more than three years, and proved Bennett’s unwieldy coalition can come together on major issues. If the Knesset had not succeeded in passing a budget by the deadline, an election would have automatically been triggered.

The NIS 609 billion ($194 billion) spending plan for 2021 was the first budget Israel passed since 2018, due to a prolonged political deadlock that saw successive governments fall before they could bring a budget proposal to the Knesset.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely believed to have torpedoed the previous budget efforts in 2020, under his power-sharing government with Benny Gantz, in order to bring down that coalition and avoid passing the premiership on to Gantz as had been agreed between the two as part of their short-lived deal.

That fight led directly to the collapse of the last government and the most recent election, the results of which saw Netanyahu ousted from office in June.

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