Coalition Leaders Pleased with Approval of Budgets

On Friday, coalition members celebrated their approval of budgets for both 2021 and 2022, as these are the first national budgets to receive approval in Israel in three years, after a prolonged political crisis. Naftali Bennett, the Prime Minister, tweeted that they had finally gotten the country back on track on Friday morning, shortly after they had approved the 2022 budget. The budget for 2021 had been passed in the early hours on Thursday, both approvals coming after voting on numerous clauses. The approval of these state budgets was a major test for the disparate coalition and it averted the possibility of fresh elections and helped stabilize the existing government.

It also proved that this coalition that comprises of an Islamist faction, as well as right-wing, left-wing and centrist parties, can work together on dealing with major issues. It also ended up dashing the hopes of Benjamin Netanyahu, the opposition leader, of breaking the coalition that had ousted him from the office in June. Yair Lapid, the Foreign Minister, said that they had taken responsibility and approved the budgets. Thanks to these votes, Lapid’s chances of becoming the Prime Minister in August 2023 also improved because he has made a power-sharing agreement with Naftali Bennett. 

Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister, claimed vindication, as his rotation government with Benjamin Netanyahu had been short-lived and was dissolved in the previous year when it didn’t pass the budget. He said that the budget approval was not just a victory for the country, but for him as well. He said that those who are working for Israeli citizens are part of the coalition and the opposition comprises of members who can damage the country and its interests. After ruling for 12 years in Israel, Netanyahu had managed to cling to power in 2019-21 after a closely-fought election. 

It is widely believed that he deliberately blocked the budget’s approval in 2020 because he did not wish to hand over the premiership to Benny Gantz, as agreed between the two. This fight had directly contributed to the collapse of the previous government and triggered elections. Gideon Sa’ar, the Justice Minister, said that the conspiracy of the opposition to lead to fifth elections has backfired. He said that they were on the path to bring stability to Israel once more. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has vowed that he will continue fighting to oust what he claims is a dishonest and dangerous government. 

However, the chances of doing this are quite reduced because he will not have to work on holding the opposition together first. Yuli Edelstein, the former Knesset Speaker, has stated openly that he will challenge Netanyahu’s leadership of the Likud party. However, opinion polls indicate that Likud appears to be getting more support, despite Netanyahu’s corruption cases ongoing. Tamar Zandberg, the Environmental Protection Minister, said that the coalition could now focus on ‘normal life’, but he did highlight the internal divides that could end up unraveling it. He said that the divisions in the coalitions were because of the Palestinians and their settlements. 

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