JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s parliament passed the state budget for the next two years on Wednesday, giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu some respite after he immediately said he was ready to relaunch his much-contested justice reform.
Faced with gigantic street demonstrations which shook his government coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu resigned himself in March to “suspend” the reform which aims to limit the independence of the Supreme Court, the time to find a “compromise” with his opponents.
After the 2023-2024 budget was voted in the Knesset, by 64 votes to 56, the prime minister said on television that reform was “clearly” back on the agenda. “But we are trying to reach an agreement (with the opposition). I hope we will achieve that,” he added.
With a budget of 484 billion shekels (120 billion euros) for this year and 514 billion shekels (EUR128 billion) for next year, the government’s other priority is to fight against inflation which has dried up. investments and reduces prospects for economic growth.
The passage of the budget was not easy, drawing criticism even within the very right-wing government coalition, due in particular to the increase in funding granted to schools and seminaries in the ultra-Orthodox community .
Opposition leader and former centrist Prime Minister Yaïr Lapid denounced a “breach of contract with Israeli citizens that we will all – and our children and our children’s children – have to pay”.
Opponents have also criticized the hundreds of millions of shekels allocated to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which they say goes against Israel’s interests.
(Report by Dan Williams, French version Tangi Salaün, edited by Blandine Hénault)
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