ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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In cabinet meeting, Netanyahu vows budget ‘will pass’ despite coalition tensions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Western Wall tunnels on May 21, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Western Wall tunnels on May 21, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

During a weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses widespread reports of major tensions and ultimatums within the coalition regarding the state budget, declaring that “the budget will pass.”

“I have some experience, I have passed 20 budgets, and last-minute arguments always arise and we will overcome them,” Netanyahu says.

The prime minister claims that the budget is “reasonable” and will level the playing field between Haredi and secular children.

“A Haredi child should not receive less than a secular child. Because a Haredi child is not half a child,” Netanyahu says.

However, according to calculations by the Kan public broadcaster published yesterday, Haredi children in fact receive funding to the tune of 40% more than their secular counterparts.

The Knesset is preparing to vote on the 2023-2024 overall budget, allocating NIS 484.8 billion this year and NIS 513.7 billion in 2024, up from NIS 452.5 billion in 2022. Failure to pass the state budget by May 29 would trigger the automatic dissolution of the government and snap elections.

However, Netanyahu is facing challenges from within his coalition. Far-right National Security Minister Ben Gvir has ordered his Otzma Yehudit lawmakers to boycott Knesset votes in a bid to pressure allied parties to divert more funds to his party’s priorities in the budget. And United Torah Judaism leader Yitzhak Goldknopf has threatened to oppose the budget’s passage unless his demands for an additional NIS 600 million ($164 million) are met.

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