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Israel coalition government saved, Knesset approves 2019 budget

The Israeli Knesset last night approved the 2019 national budget, with 62 members voting in favour and 54 members voting against the move.

The overall budget amounts to 479 billion shekels ($139 billion), with the state budget being 397.3 billion shekels ($115.3 billion), the education budget 60 billion shekels ($17.4 billion), the welfare and Holocaust survivors' budget being 13 billion shekels ($3.8 billion), allowances for the disabled approximately two billion shekels ($0.58 billion), and the Ministry of Defence budget being around 63 billion shekels ($18.3 billion).

The budget was set in early January but has only just been approved due to feuding within the ruling coalition government. In the weeks leading up to the vote, there was a real danger that the coalition government – led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party – was going to collapse.

Netanyahu's corruption scandal - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Netanyahu's corruption scandal – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Among a myriad of issues such as corruption allegations which have plagued Netanyahu, the most prominent reason for the coalition feud was the controversial law which would force Haredi Orthodox Jews to enlist in the Israeli army.

Read: Ultra-Orthodox Jews threaten Netanyahu over compulsory conscription bill

What followed was a huge number of Members of the Knesset (MKs) threatening to vote against the budget if their demands were not met while the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties in the coalition said that would not back the government if conscription became mandatory for their voters.

Netanyahu called upon "all the coalition partners, and chief among them Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, to remain in the government and continue this partnership in order to ensure security, prosperity and stability for the State of Israel."

The vote on the budget eventually went through into the early hours of this morning with a majority in favour, after United Torah Judaism and Shas parties – both part of the coalition – agreed to support the budget in exchange for a preliminary reading allowing Haredi men avoid military service.

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