Knesset Approves Budget, Netanyahu's Government Saved
The Knesset approved the second and third readings of the state budget for the years 2013-2014 early Tuesday morning, after long discussions that lasted for more than 15 hours.
58 MKs voted in favor of the budget, which includes some difficult austerity measures, and 43 voted against.
Earlier, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with the heads of opposition parties in an effort to push through approval of the state budget, which had to pass its second and third readings by midnight Wednesday, or new elections would have had to be called.
MKs from the opposition filed some 4,700 reservations about the budget. Technically, MKs who have filed those reservations have the right to address the Knesset about each one of them, a process that would likely take weeks.
At one point, members of the opposition agreed to withdraw some of their reservations and speed up the process, though at one point the opposition decided to make things difficult for the coalition by imposing a name-by-name vote on a series of reservations.
As part of the austerity measures announced by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, taxes will be going up for just about everyone in Israel; for those earning NIS 14,000 and less, taxes will rise by 1% next year, while those earning between NIS 14,000 and 20,000 will pay 1.4% more.
Those earning more than NIS 20,000 will pay 2% more. Corporate taxes will be going up as well, by 1.5%. Other benefits and tax breaks will be reduced or eliminated.
Opposition head MK Shelly Yechimovich attacked Lapid and Netanyahu after the budget was approved, saying, "This budget hurts 99% of the public at an intensity not seen here since 2003.”
She added that the budget "has no hope and no vision and will continue the process of destructive erosion of the middle class." Yechimovich directly attacked Lapid, saying that he "became the presenter for Netanyahu. The public will not forgive him for the deception.”
On Sunday, MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) called on fellow lawmakers from all parties to vote against the state budget in protest over the release of terrorists as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority.
“Releasing 104 ticking time bombs as a bribe for the start of negotiations or for building in Judea and Samaria is something that every moral person must rise up against,” he said. “I call on ministers and Knesset members from all factions to clarify to the Prime Minister that they will act against this decision.”
“This week the Knesset will vote on the state budget. I call on moral Knesset members from all factions to join me and announce that they will oppose the budget if the decision is made to release murderers,” added Feiglin.
“At this point, the only political way members of the Knesset have to stop the release of terrorists is to condition their support for the budget on the stopping of the insanity and the cancellation of this possibility of releasing terrorists,” he noted.