Knesset speaker: “The budget will pass – we have 61 votes, maybe 62”


Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy said on Saturday he believed the coalition had enough votes to pass the budget by November 4, a key deadline that must be met to prevent another round of elections .

“The budget will pass – we have 61 votes, maybe 62,” he told Channel 12, hinting that a potential additional vote could come from rebel MP Yamina Amichai Chikli.

When asked if the votes came from the opposition United Arab List party, Levy did not respond.

“I do not know, I am not involved in the negotiations,” said the speaker. “The budget will pass and it’s a good budget.

Earlier this month, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said he believed the budget would pass because even most of the opposition does not want another round of elections. The Joint List, in response, said it “cannot be bought”.

Levy, a member of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, said on Saturday that a number of compromises had been found on the Arrangements Act, a piece of legislation accompanying the budget that sets out government policies, which will potentially usher in a slew of profound changes in the Israeli economy and society.

“We have reduced the law on arrangements by about 30%,” said Levy, without specifying whether these were particularly important parts of the legislation.

“There are very important issues, issues that the government cares about deeply, and they should be included in the Arrangements Act. I would like to see more issues included [in the bill], but not everything is possible, ”said Levy.

Cabinet approves state budget, August 2, 2021 (GPO / Amos Ben Gershom)

Earlier this month, the cabinet approved the budget, Israel’s first in three years, but complex legislation must now go through committee stages and three Knesset plenary readings before the November 4 deadline. . This is a key issue for the coalition, which has a weak parliamentary majority.

If that doesn’t pass by then, the Knesset would automatically dissolve and an election would follow.

The budget will require the passage of all votes of the thin coalition, with the opposition of a single lawmaker capable of bringing it down. The diverse makeup of the government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – made up of right-wing, centrist and left-wing parties – complicates the effort.

Opposition leader Likud MP Benjamin Netanyahu said he would “spare no effort” in his attempt to prevent the budget from passing in the Knesset.

Levy said on Saturday that he and his wife had recently hosted the Likud leader and his wife, Sara, for dinner and that he believed that “Netanyahu and I may be able to take other steps together after the budget.” [has passed]. “

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on August 2, 2021 (by Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

The two-year state budget allocates $ 187 billion for 2021 and $ 173 billion for 2022, and includes sweeping reforms to the establishment of kashrut and the agricultural industry, high taxes on items in disposable plastic and sugary drinks, and significant changes to import policies.

Other major reforms include gradually raising the retirement age for women to 65 over an 11-year period, four months per year for three years, and three months per year for another eight years. .

In the previous government, then-Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to pass a budget, which allowed him to call an election without coalition partner Defense Minister Benny Gantz immediately becoming Prime Minister of transition under their rotation agreement.

The last state budget approved by Israel was in 2019, before the country bogged down in two years of political stalemate. This budget was adopted in March 2018.

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