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Israel passes state budget for the first time in three years

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, on September 5, 2021 [SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem on 5 September 2021 [SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The Knesset passed the country's first state budget this morning after approving the 2021 spending bill into law in a 61 to 59 vote, giving Israel a new budget for the first time in over three years.

MPs approved a 609 billion shekel ($194 billion) spending plan for 2021 and are to resume debate later in the day on a 573 billion shekel ($183 billion) package for next year.

"It's a day for celebration for the State of Israel," wrote Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Twitter after the vote.

"After years of chaos, we established a government, overcame the (COVID-19) Delta variant and now, thank God, we passed a budget for Israel."

According to Haaretz, the Knesset began voting on a series of budget bills, including hundreds of amendments, late yesterday.

Israel: 2021-22 budget approved

The Arrangements Law which includes key reforms, including raising the retirement age for women, a congestion tax in the Tel Aviv area and the kosher certification reform, also passed today in a 61-57 vote.

Bennett's coalition had until 14 November to get the budget approved to prevent parliament being dissolved, which would have forced the fifth election in three years.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised the government and the budget, claiming it will "include taxes against the weaker layers of society, against the orthodox community and against the periphery."

"We must bring down this irresponsible government," he said.

Bennett responded that the opposition under the former premier's leadership was seeking only "chaos".

"We want stability," he said.

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