Shelly Yacimovich .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A proposal to postpone the deadline to pass the state budget to November 5 passed a first reading in the Knesset overnight Monday, with the opposition keeping MKs up past 2 a.m. for the vote.
The bill, an amendment to the Basic Law: Budget, passed with 57 in favor and 55 opposed. If it passes the two more final votes, expected to take place in the coming weeks, it would give the government 175 days to pass the budget, instead of the 100 days currently mandated by law. In addition, it brings back the two-year budget, which previous finance minister Yair Lapid sought to suspend, though the 2015 budget would be passed almost at the end of the year.
With a coalition of only 61 seats, every vote is a close one, and the opposition tried to exhaust the coalition into not having enough MKs left in the House to win, with a filibuster featuring dozens of speeches that were not necessarily relevant to the topic at hand.
For example, MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) noted that Monday was Towel Day, in memory of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which galactic hitchhikers are advised never to leave their towel at home.
MK Zuheir Bahloul, also of Zionist Union, took the podium after 1:30 a.m. to announce that he is usually snoring at that hour.
“I couldn’t have imagined that the Knesset discusses retroactive matters whose time has passed,” he added, referring to the fact that the 2015 budget would be passed in November 2015.
“In a circus, everyone knows what he’s doing, because if someone makes a mistake, the result will be tragic,” MK Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beytenu) said.
“Here, this isn’t even a circus, because no one knows what he’s doing. I don’t understand how this government changed two Basic Laws without forming any [Knesset] committees.”
Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen summed up the discussion by saying: “Who says there aren’t advantages to a 61-seat coalition? Everyone is here, everyone is speaking, everyone is participating, and I must say everyone spoke sensibly. All we wanted was an extension and it caused such a raucous debate. If for such a small thing we sat here all night, what will happen when the big articles come, like housing reform?”