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Knesset panel approves state budget after marathon debate

The budget now heads to the plenum for its final votes.

The Knesset Assembly Hall, March 13, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
The Knesset Assembly Hall, March 13, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Following a 15-hour debate, the Knesset Finance Committee approved the draft 2023-24 budget, which will now be sent to the Knesset plenum for second and third readings required to pass into law.

The budget passed by the committee stands at 484 billion shekels ($132 billion) in 2023 and 514 billion shekels ($140 billion) in 2024.

The plenum in late March approved the first reading of the state budget, with the 2023 budget passing by a vote of 40-32 and the 2024 plan 41-32.

“I congratulate my fellow members of the coalition for approving the state budget and the Economic Arrangements Bill for the years 2023-2024 in the first reading,” said Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the time.

“We have our eyes on one thing only—the welfare of the citizens of Israel. All of them. This is a responsible budget that is biased towards infrastructure and growth, and we do everything that we can to maintain Israel’s economy and work for the welfare of its citizens. I am proud of this budget,” he said.

The 2022 state budget was NIS 452.5 billion ($124 billion).

Israel posted its first budget surplus in 35 years in 2022, at 0.6% of the gross domestic product.

Failure to pass the 2023 budget by May 29 would see the Knesset automatically dissolved and send Israel to its sixth election in just over four years.

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