Israel’s Knesset passes divisive 2023 budget amid war in Gaza – Israel Politics

The Knesset passed the amended budget for 2023 on Thursday in a 59-44 vote.

The new budget includes an addition of some NIS 30 billion with NIS 17b. intended for the Defense Ministry and the war efforts. The rest was intended for civil needs that were the results of the war, a rehabilitation fund for towns in the South that were attacked by Hamas on October 7, and coalition agreements not related to the war.

The bill, however, garnered heavy resistance from the opposition who decried the inclusion of coalition funds for purposes unrelated to the war, like raising salaries for teachers in unsupervised ultra-Orthodox schools that don’t teach core subjects, “family purity” counseling, and “Jewish identity.”

Some NIS 500 million were added to the National Missions Ministry and were officially declared as intended for the security needs of settlements in the West Bank. However, those funds are generally part of the Defense Ministry’s purview.

MK Moshe Gafni adresses the Israeli parliament during a discussion and a vote on the state budget at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, December, 2023 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Opposition says budget shows political and sectorial divide

Members of the opposition who spoke said that hundreds of millions of shekels in the new budget were assigned with political and sectorial motivations and should have instead been used for the benefit of the IDF, evacuees, the economy, and affected businesses, among others.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid urged the MKs not to vote for the amended budget, telling them that if they did, they wouldn’t be able to forgive themselves, and nor would the State of Israel.


The opposition had filed a series of concessions to the bill that would have reallocated some of the funds, but none passed the votes.

Before passing the amended budget, the Knesset passed a law to allow the government a higher deficit cutoff in order to allow for the extra funds presented in the amended 2023 budget.

While the national budget for 2024 was passed earlier this year alongside the 2023 budget, the Knesset will legislate an amended budget for next year separately.

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