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Knesset Passes the Budget in an 18-Hour Session

knessetThe opposition parties were at their best, with the chareidim leading the filibuster, but ultimately, as is always the case, agreement was reached and the 2013-2014 state budget was passed along with the Arrangements Law, with the latter including many harsh new realities for many families. The budget was passed in the vote held at 03:10 by a margin of 58-43.

An agreement was reached with the opposition to withdraw most of the over 6,000 objections filed in exchange for the coalition delaying the new Governance Law, the effort to change the form of government. This result of not presenting the bill for a first reading in this session is that the law cannot be brought for a second and third/final vote in Knesset in the first month following the summer recess.

The deal was the filibuster was to permit the vote around midnight, but comments by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid that the “opposition caved in with their tail between their legs” angered MK Moshe Gafne, who announced the objections are being returned to the table. In addition, the opposition compelled a vote by calling of names on many issues instead of a ten second electronic vote as is customary.

At about 02:00 it became evident that members of the coalition and opposition were beginning to lose it. Some ministers and MKs were seen fast asleep while others where exhibiting signs of heavy eyes. As the opposition continues insisting on manual voting, the coalition threatened if the delays continue, they will bring the Governance Law for an immediate first readying, which persuaded the opposition to back down.

Truth be said the Arrangements Law will have a significant impact on the lives of many. While the opposition MKs were less than pleased, they realized they will have to minimize the damage by seeking a victory on the Governance Law since the Arrangements Law is a done deal. Some of the harsh realities included in the Arrangements Law is the cut in monthly government child allowances. The Arab parties are particularly angered by the Arrangements Law, the clause the raises the minimum threshold to enter Knesset from 2% to 4%, a reality that will result in some of Arab parties to merge or rethink their future. This new reality threatens to eliminate the Ra’am-Ta’al and Hadash parties from the political map.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

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