Israel’s parliament on Thursday approved a 25.9 billion shekel ($7 billion) supplementary wartime budget for 2023.
The amendment to the 484 billion shekel ($132 billion) 2023 state budget approved last May passed its final vote in the Knesset plenum with 58 lawmakers in favor and 44 opposed. Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel of the ruling Likud Party was absent from the vote and Likud Knesset member Yuli Edelstein abstained after initially voting yes.
National Unity Party members led by War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz did not vote on the supplementary budget; they stayed outside the plenary hall and reportedly did not have time to vote on the measure.
The additional budget is intended to pay for the costs of the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip that began after the Oct. 7 massacre of civilians and soldiers in southern Israel. These expenses include compensation for military reservists called up for duty and accommodations for the more than 200,000 Israelis forced to evacuate their homes in the north near the border with Lebanon and the south near Gaza.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionism Party, called it “a good budget which provides answers to the needs of the war on the frontlines and at home.”
Opposition leaders Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) criticized the budget from the plenum podium.
Lapid said: “If you vote for this budget, you will not forgive yourselves, and the State of Israel will not forgive you.”
Liberman responded: “This government is taking us from a security failure to an economic failure.”