Lawmakers to skip Ben-Gurion memorial over budget vote
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Lawmakers to skip Ben-Gurion memorial over budget vote

Annual event conflicts with deadline for passing two-year budget; Herzog urges Netanyahu to halt debates for ceremony

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), President Reuven Rivlin (2l), MK Nachman Shai (C), former president Shimon Peres and leader of the Opposition Isaac Herzog (2R) attend a memorial ceremony for the first Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion, in Sde Boker. November 27, 2014. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), President Reuven Rivlin (2l), MK Nachman Shai (C), former president Shimon Peres and leader of the Opposition Isaac Herzog (2R) attend a memorial ceremony for the first Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion, in Sde Boker. November 27, 2014. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)

No Knesset members are planning to attend the annual memorial ceremony for Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion on Wednesday, which is expected to conflict with the Knesset vote on the two-year budget, Channel 2 reported on Sunday.

The 2015-2016 budget must be brought to a second and third reading by Thursday. If the budget fails to pass by the deadline, the government goes to elections.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) sent an urgent appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein asking them to pause the debate on the budget and the vote for several hours Wednesday to allow the lawmakers to attend the event.

“This is the situation: the government won’t stop the votes on the budget for even three hours in order to respect the legacy of the first prime minister,” Herzog wrote on Facebook. “Has the state lost all respect for its symbols? In my eyes, this is a disgrace.”

David Ben-Gurion at home (GPO)
David Ben-Gurion at home (GPO)

The Knesset’s Finance Committee approved the budget for its second and third readings on Sunday night, kicking off several days of marathon debates.

Earlier Sunday, the Knesset Joint Committee on the Defense Budget approved a 2016 defense budget of NIS 56.1 billion ($14.4 billion), in a compromise agreement reached between officials from the defense and finance ministries.

The defense budget passed by a vote of 8-4 in the committee, and will be added to the broader state budget bill that the Knesset will be considering throughout the week. The defense budget includes the army and Defense Ministry, but excludes other security services such as the Shin Bet and Mossad.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the defense budget, saying that in all his years as prime minister and finance minister, this was the first time that such an agreement had been reached. He called it “a proper budget not only for 2016, but also for what will be presented soon, a multi-year plan for the IDF.”

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