Knesset MKs at plenum 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The new government cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday, passing a bill giving it
135 days to authorize a new budget.
According to the new legislation, the
government will have 85 days from Monday, when it was sworn in, to present a
budget proposal, and the Knesset will have 50 days to discuss and vote on it – a
total of 135 days to pass a budget, as opposed to the original
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni explained that the bill will allow the
government to propose a clear, organized and responsible budget, and give the
Knesset enough time to prepare for a vote.
The bill passed with 56 in
favor, 10 opposed and 15 abstaining, in a relatively quick plenum meeting,
compared to the filibuster the opposition had planned, before a compromise was
reached on Monday night.
Still, the opposition had plenty to say in the
Knesset discussion of the legislation.
Temporary Finance Committee
chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ) said to Finance Minister Yair Lapid: “You committed
to helping the middle class, and now I want to see what you’ll do when ministry
bureaucrats tell you that you need to cut NIS 40 billion, and it’ll become clear
to you who are deprived and who are rich.”
Gafni challenged Lapid to
fight “tycoons” and lower prices of water and electricity, and recommended he
not pass a two-year budget.
On Monday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid
decided not to bring the idea of a twoyear budget to a vote, saying he needs to
learn the issue.
Later Monday, the government compromised to avoid a
filibuster, allowing the Knesset 50 days instead of 30 to pass the
A Labor spokeswoman said before the compromise was reached that
the opposition is willing to filibuster the extension “until [US President
Barack] Obama arrives and until the eve of Pessah” and even after, to make life
difficult for the coalition.
Also Tuesday, the Knesset authorized the
appointment of eight deputy ministers: Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon
(Likud Beytenu), Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu), Deputy
Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud Beytenu), Deputy Minister in the
Prime Minister’s Office Ophir Akunis (Likud Beytenu), Deputy Interior Minister
Faina Kirschenbaum (Likud Beytenu), Deputy Minister of Religious Services Eli
Ben- Dahan (Bayit Yehudi), Deputy Education Minister Avraham Wortzman (Bayit
Yehudi), and Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid).
also authorized its own Passover recess, which will continue until the summer
session begins on April 21. The summer recess will begin on July 28, two days
before the budget is due.