Marathon Knesset debate begins ahead of critical budget votes

The 2021 budget must be passed to prevent the Bennett government from falling. The voting is set to end by Friday morning.

Cabinet meeting on August 2 where the budget was approved (photo credit: GPO)
Cabinet meeting on August 2 where the budget was approved
(photo credit: GPO)

The Knesset will begin what is expected to be some 36 hours of voting in 600 separate votes on the 2021 state budget, its accompanying economic arrangements bill and then the 2022 state budget on Wednesday night.

The order was set because the 2021 budget must be passed to prevent Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government from falling. The voting is set to end by Friday morning.

The Knesset began a 33-hour debate on the state budgets on Tuesday morning.

The debate will conclude with speeches by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Knesset Finance Committee chairman Alex Kushnir.

Liberman told the plenum that Israel had waited three and a half years to pass a budget, and he is glad it is finally happening.

He said it was symbolic that the budget debate was happening on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which declared British support for a Jewish homeland in Mandatory Palestine under its control.

Liberman posed with members of his Yisrael Beytenu faction in the morning to celebrate the moment.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman during a vote on the state budget in the Knesset last month. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman during a vote on the state budget in the Knesset last month. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Knesset Interior Committee chairman Waleed Taha (Ra’am – United Arab List) told the plenum that it is the first time the Israeli Arab sector is truly included in a state budget.

Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas confirmed a report that he insisted on an allocation of NIS 100 million for the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sector, due to a long-standing alliance between religiously observant Jews and Muslims in the Knesset.

In interviews with KAN Radio and Channel 12, Abbas revealed that he negotiated with Netanyahu for two years on joining a Likud-led government. He said the Likud had urged him to persuade the Religious Zionist Party to enter a coalition with him.  

The Likud has denied Abbas’s charges.

Meanwhile, United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush proposed a new bill on Tuesday that would give every family with at least four kids a free dishwasher.

Porush proposed the bill because of a new tax on disposable plates that took effect on Monday.