Israeli gov’t passes budget amidst mass protests

(Photo: Twitter)
AMMAN — The Israeli Knesset approved Benjamin Netanyahu's government budget on Wednesday despite widespread protests in the streets. Thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demonstrate against the allocation of substantial subsidies to ultra-Orthodox Jews in the budget, accusing the ruling coalition of “plundering” state funds.اضافة اعلان

The Knesset announced that the budget was approved with 64 votes in favor and 56 opposing votes. The approved budget includes a financing package of 484 billion shekels ($131 billion) for the current year and 514 billion shekels ($139 billion) for the following year, Amad reported.

Netanyahu's confidence and opposition's criticismBefore the vote, Benjamin Netanyahu expressed confidence in the approval of the 2023–2024 budget, dismissing last-minute funding demands from his far-right and religious allies.

However, the leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, criticized the budget, describing it as the worst in Israel's history.

According to the opposition leader, the draft budget does not provide "an engine for growth, nor does it provide a cure for the high cost of living, but rather it is just endless blackmail.”

Lapid argued that the budget discouraged higher education, work, and financial support for children. He also emphasized the lack of provisions for economic growth and the high cost of living.

Settlement expansion
The allocation of substantial funds to ultra-Orthodox institutions and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which the Palestinians demand for their future states, sparked anger among the opposition.

According to Asher Blass, professor of economics at Ashkelon Academic College, the economic data recorded in recent months in the Hebrew state showed an increase in inflation and interest rates, and a decline in the value of the shekel.

Plass added, in an interview with AFP that in light of these economic conditions, the government should have set a budget that provides "engines for growth" instead of "financial transfers" to ultra-Orthodox Jewish institutions.

Thousands of Israelis demonstrated in occupied Jerusalem, protesting the government's allocation of "generous subsidies" to ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The demonstrators accused the ruling coalition of "plundering" state funds. The protest march towards Parliament was organized by a movement that has been staging weekly demonstrations against a controversial judicial reform project since January.

In a last-minute deal with one of the ultra-Orthodox parties in his coalition, Netanyahu announced that married couples of ultra-Orthodox Jews pursuing religious studies would receive 250 million shekels ($67.5 million) from the government.

Read more Region and World
Jordan News