Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement with National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Monday, removing the last hurdle to the passing of the state budget.
The Otzma Yehudit Party head had threatened to vote against the budget unless more funding was directed to the Development of the Periphery, the Negev and the Galilee Ministry, led by Otzma Yehudit member Yitzhak Wasserlauf.
According to the terms of the deal, an extra 250 million shekels ($68.3 million) is to be allocated for the Negev and Galilee next year, with the money coming from the surpluses of other ministries. If there are no surplus funds, then retroactive budget cuts to the ministries will take effect.
Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party announced that an agreement on the budget had been reached with United Torah Judaism.
UTJ’s Agudat Yisrael faction, led by Construction and Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf, is to receive up to 250 million shekels ($68 million) for stipends to yeshivah students, with that money also coming from budget surpluses.
The two agreements clear the way for the budget legislation to pass its final readings in the Knesset, likely either on Tuesday or Wednesday, avoiding the May 29 deadline.
The two-year draft budget approved by the Finance Committee stands at 484 billion shekels ($132 billion) for 2023 and 514 billion shekels ($140 billion) for 2024.
In a statement, Ben-Gvir called the agreement “good news” for residents of the Negev and Galilee.
“We said again and again that residents of the Negev and Galilee cannot be discriminated against,” Ben-Gvir said.
“In the coming budget we must invest in the Negev and Galilee. Jerusalem is our soul, the Negev and Galilee are our life force. We must act there, we must be sovereign also in the Negev and in the Galilee, and the basis is the budget,” he added.
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