Liberman says he’ll petition against ‘illegal’ Likud-UTJ budget agreement

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

Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu party chief Avigdor Liberman says his opposition party will petition the Knesset’s legal counsel to contest the coalition’s latest state budget deal, which enables handing over budget surpluses to Haredi party priorities.

“It’s blatantly illegal,” the former finance minister charges, speaking at the outset of his faction meeting at the Knesset.

Hours after the Knesset began plenum discussions on the budget earlier today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich quelled a rebellion on part of some ultra-Orthodox politicians by promising they can use existing budgetary allocations to pay out a retroactive stipend to yeshiva students, as well as using Haredi school budgetary surpluses to further pump up assistance to religious scholars.

Liberman, who over the past few years has been fiercely critical of the ultra-Orthodox community’s under-participation in the workforce and the military, slams the budget for providing “negative incentives” to join or prepare for the workforce.

The budget in general, he says, is “a giant black mark that pollutes all of the professional economic decision-making in Israel.”

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