Kulanu head Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after signing the coalition agreement.
(photo credit: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in passing the 2015-2016 state budget early Thursday after a cabinet meeting that stretched to almost 17 hours.
All but Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon voted in favor of the budget, which will be NIS 329.5 billion in 2015 and NIS 343.3b.
in 2016. Ya’alon abstained due to differences with the Treasury over the budget of his ministry.
At the conclusion of the vote, Netanyahu expressed satisfaction that no ministers had voted against it, which he said showed that the coalition was united. He said the budget was balanced, responsible and good for Israel.
One of the last ministers to drop his opposition to the budget was Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose ministry was given a raise of NIS 4b. to a total of NIS 49b. Education received the largest budget after defense, which was granted NIS 55.3b.
“The budget is terrific for education in Israel and we will see the results in 15 years when the children finish school,” Bennett told Army Radio on Thursday.
“It is a happy day for everyone. The pupils and the teachers won.”
The Health Ministry budget also rose by NIS 4b., and Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said he was happy he’d be able to implement his proposed reforms.
The Welfare; Culture and Sport; and Science and Technology ministries also received a raise in their budgets. The ministers in charge of those issues released statements in celebration.
But Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich downplayed the news and said the ministers were misleading the public. She said the state budget was actually cut by three percent across the board, by about NIS 11b.
“Many wonderful projects will no longer be funded,” Yacimovich told Israel Radio. “That means less education, health, welfare and internal security.”
The budget still must pass three readings in the Knesset, one in September and two in November.