Coalition Passes 2021-22 Budget; Joint List in Principled Opposition

The Knesset passed early Thursday morning, November 4, Israel’s first budget in over three years. In a vote of 61-59, the coalition overcame the first in a series of hurdles as the government of far-right Prime Minister Naftali Bennett seeks to get a grip on its internal differences and the objections of the opposition to approve a series of bills meant to guide the country’s spending until the end of 2022.

Knesset session in which the state’s budget for 2021-2022 was approved (Footage: Knesset Channel)

Lawmakers voted to approve the state budget for 2021-2022 just after 5 am Thursday morning following an all-night session. Passing the budget was seen as a key test for Bennett’s eight-party coalition, both to prove that the ideologically disparate alliance can come together on major issues and because a failure to do so by a November 14 deadline would have automatically triggered new elections.

As the marathon parliamentary session began on Wednesday, November 3, it initially appeared that the Joint List, would vote with the rest of the opposition against the budget, meaning that the coalition would likely need all of its lawmakers present for the entire voting process. However, the Joint List subsequently announced that it would not be voting for the amendments introduced by the Likud and other right-wing parties in the opposition. 

Leader of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) said publicly that his bloc’s members will vote unanimously against the proposed budget, while also rejecting the opposition’s amendments, because of both the coalition’s and opposition’s neo-liberal economic policies, their discrimination against Arabs and their support for funding of war against Iran and the further entrenchment of the occupation.

Related: Israel Approves Budget of $1.5 Billion for Strike against Iran