(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The Israeli cabinet approved the 2015-16 state budget bill in the early hours of Thursday morning, after a tumultuous marathon discussion that began on Wednesday afternoon. The budget was approved with a majority vote among Israel’s 20 government ministers. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon abstained from the vote, as his ministry’s budget has yet to be determined.
The biennial budget, which will be presented to the Knesset in the coming weeks, effectively spans 18 fiscal months. The budget for 2015 was set at $86.35 billion, and the 2016 budget was set at $89.96 billion, representing a 7.2-percent increase from the 2014 state budget.
The government set Israel’s deficit goals at 2.9 percent of the gross domestic product.
“As promised, we have passed the state budget, which reflects the unity of the coalition and the government,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “This is a balanced, responsible, and growth-oriented budget, which seeks to lower the cost of living. This is a good budget for Israel.”
Israeli ministries receiving budget increases include the Education Ministry ($1.3 billion increase), the Health Ministry ($1.2 billion), the Public Security Ministry ($440 million), the Welfare and Social Services Ministry ($340 million), and the Culture and Sport Ministry ($10 million).
Regarding the defense budget, the Finance Ministry has appropriated $15 billion for defense spending, but Ya’alon and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot both believe that amount is insufficient.