Barkat says he won’t vote for budget unless funds allocated for businesses in north, south

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Economy Minister Nir Barkat at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 6, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Economy Minister Nir Barkat at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 6, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Economy Minister Nir Barkat says he will not vote for the government’s 2023 wartime budget update as it comes for its first Knesset vote today, unless his office is given NIS 250 million to prop up ailing businesses on Israel’s southern and northern fronts.

“I will not support the state budget if it does not allocate at least NIS 250 million… to save businesses in the south and north,” Barkat tells the Knesset’s Economic Committee, ahead of the expected budget vote.

“The treasury doesn’t call us back, it’s detached from events,” he continues, reaffirming his criticism that the Finance Ministry built the budget without addressing the tactical problems faced by businesses threatened by the war.

“If the businesses in the combat zones collapse and do not survive the war – this is a victory for Hamas,” Barkat continues.

War minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity party has also said it would not vote for the budget, in protest over a separate issue tied to its opposition to funding about NIS 1 billion in political promises, rather than redirecting those monies to the war effort.

The budget is expected to clear its first reading today, with the coalition still holding 63 out of the Knesset’s 120 votes even without Barkat.

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