311_Netanyahu with firefighters.
(photo credit: GPO)
Opposition MKs complained that the government had favored yeshiva students over
firefighters, but despite their protests, the Knesset Finance Committee approved
the state budget for 2011-2012 on Wednesday evening by a vote of
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The two-year budget is expected to be brought to the plenum Monday
for its second and third readings.
During the marathon hearings on the
budget, MK Ya’acov Edri (Kadima) called on Finance Committee chairman MK Moshe
Gafni (UTJ) to uphold his pledge that he would not hold the crucial vote to
advance the budget if NIS 571 million was not added for the Fire and Rescue
“This is a public obligation to save life, to which all of the
committee members committed,” said Edri. “Backtracking on this obligation will
pass a clear message of contempt and white-washing to the Israeli
At the opening of the hearing, Gafni asked Treasury Budget
Director Udi Nissan to report on his office’s plans to improve the budget for
the Fire and Rescue Service. Nissan replied that although the addition to the
fire fighting budget was not in the new budget itself, the Finance Ministry was
committed to hand over the necessary funds in the coming months.
added budget, which he said was hundreds of millions of shekels, would be
transferred only after the Treasury completed a plan to improve the
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) called on Gafni to
set a specific date by which the entire fire services budget would be approved
by the key Knesset committee, rather than allowing the government’s promises to
But despite the vocal opposition, the budget sailed through
After the vote, Kadima MKs raised an eyebrow at what they
called a last-minute addition of NIS 13m. to funds for yeshiva
“Netanyahu chose the yeshiva students and neglected the
firefighters,” complained Kadima spokesman Shmulik Dahan. “This was a scandalous
decision which is a clear and embarrassing message to the Israeli public, that
Israel is being led by a cynical person whose priorities harm
The budget for 2011 will be set at NIS 348 billion, while the
budget for 2012 will rise to NIS 366b.
The passage of the budget was
originally delayed after Defense Minister Ehud Barak demanded a NIS 6b. increase
to his ministry’s budget, which had already reached an alltime high. But
ultimately, the joint committee for the defense budget approved the existing
budget, without Barak’s add-on.
Joint committee chairman MK Shaul Mofaz
(Kadima) asked lawmakers to “support the budget as proposed, after both the
Defense and Finance Ministries clarified that it is possible to realize Israel’s
security needs within the framework of the existing budget.”
The only MK
on the joint committee to oppose the defense budget was Ariel.
goes as expected, the defense budget for 2011 will stand at NIS 49b. and for
2012 will be approximately NIS 50b.