The budget of the Bennett-Lapid-Lieberman government passed in the Knesset’s Finance Committee in the early hours of Thursday morning, but not before Chareidi members of the committee managed to snag significant funding for religious education, shemitta organizations, the renovation of mekemos kedoshim, and other causes.
The budget still must be approved in the Knesset in a second and third reading before the deadline of November 14.
Opposition MKs filed about 30,000 reservations – UTJ, Shas, the Religious Zionist party, and Likud filed 22,270, and the Joint Arab List filed 11,000. Deliberations on the reservations began on Wednesday night, lasting about six hours, with little progress made. In the early hours of Thursday morning, the committee’s chairman, MK Alex Kushnir (Yisrael Beiteinu), requested to hold compound votes on the reservations since deliberating each one would have taken days.
However, the opposition remained adamant that each reservation be deliberated. Finally, coalition members offered to compromise on the opposition’s demands, ultimately approving the transfer of NIS 91 million to various causes, with NIS 50 million transferred in 2021 and NIS 41 million to be transferred in 2022. In exchange, the opposition members retracted most of their reservations.
UTJ MK Moshe Gafni and Shas MKs Yinon Azoulay and Chaim Biton, all members of the Finance Committee, succeeded in gaining NIS 30 million for religious education – NIS 15 million for Chinuch Atzmai and NIS 15 million for Maayan HaChinuch (Shas’s religious educational system), NIS 8.5 million for the renovation of Hamekomos Hakedoshim, NIS 7 million for projects for the strengthening of Jewish identity, and NIS 1.5 million for Shemitta organizations.
In addition, NIS 5 million was allocated for hospitals in the periphery, NIS 3 million was allocated for development in the Galil and Negev, and NIS 1.5 million was allocated for boarding schools in Yehudah and Shomron.
Additionally, NIS 15 million was allocated via the Joint List for social security aid for students studying abroad.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)