JERUSALEM (VINNews) — The lack of a budget has hurt much of Israeli society, including the yeshivas, kollels and avreichim (married students). Without yet having passed the 2020 budget, the state of Israel is operating on a budget based on numbers from 2018, since the last budget was passed in that year, and 2019 was a year of elections an no new budget was passed. Whatever is being given out now, as emergency funds, is being given out based on numbers from 2 to 3 years ago (since the 2018 budget is based on numbers from 2017).
The law requires the budget to be passed by next Monday, or else the Knesset is automatically dispersed and new elections will be called. Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Netanyahu signed a coalition agreement that the government would pass a 2 year budget. Netanyahu has been insisting on passing a one year budget now, passing the budget for 2021 next year, and has refused to capitulate, and Gantz has refused to give in to Netanyahu’s demands since a one-year budget means that there will be another budget crisis next year and at that point Netanyahu may topple the government in order to prevent Gantz from serving as prime minister.
MK Tzvi Hauser (Telem – Kachol Lavan) suggested a solution to avoid the crisis by postponing it, passing a law which would postpone the requirement for the passage of a budget until November. This would give them all more time to fight about it without the immediate threat of Knesset dispersal, but would not help those who urgently need the help of an updated budget. For example if the number of yeshiva students and has risen by 4000 per year in the last three years, these new students cannot receive state funding under the old budget.
Walla news reported that while debating the proposed law to postpone the budget in the Knesset Finance Committee, committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) proposed through his proxies (as he himself just underwent a surgical procedure) that the law allowing the postponement of the budget only be passed if it includes a clause that they immediately pass a special budget for the yeshivas to the tune of 400 million shekels. Gafni’s demand and threat (he is saying he will hold up the law unless this demand is met) was discussed in the committee, which dispersed without reaching an agreement, leaving the matter to the last minute next week.
However Gafni is not the only one with budgetary demands in return for passing the new law. The Telem faction which initiated the law has requested a number of its own changes before voting for the law, including reducing the size of the government, providing unemployment benefits for the self-employed, adding 400 million shekels to subsidize school books for weaker sectors, covering deficits of government hospitals and providing another 2000 positions for nurses and 400 for interns, as well as a national plan for dealing with coronavirus.
It is hard to see the budget being postponed with such acrimony and so many demands preceding it, but Israelis are truly weary of elections and somehow the Knesset will have to find a way to pass the law by Monday if it wishes to remain relevant in the eyes of the public.