The Knesset finance committee on Wednesday evening approved the 2021 and 2022 finance laws for the second and third readings in the Knesset.

After 6 hours of marathon debates, which included several hundred objections on approximately 30,000 objections submitted by United Judaism of Torah, Shas, United Arab List, Religious Zionist Party and Likud, a motion was brought forward by the chairman of the committee, MP Alex Kushnir, to reach a compromise with the opposition parties.

The compromise included around NIS 70m. in additional funds allocated to opposition-backed projects, including funding for yeshivot, NIS 5 million to renovate hospitals on the outskirts and NIS 3 million for development in the Galilee and the Negev. There was also an agreement to amend the legislation to reduce national insurance payments for Israeli students studying at institutions abroad.

“We went through a very, very important process here, especially for the state, when the last budget approved here was in March 2018,” Kushnir said following the deal. “This budget contains a lot of good news, as well as the law on the arrangements with a lot of reforms. I want to thank the members of the coalition and the members of the opposition who came here for every discussion, despite the disagreements.”

The Knesset’s finance and economics committees have been working hard in recent days to approve the final chapters of the Economic Arrangements Act (EIA) that will accompany the budget.

The government will formally present the state budget to the Knesset on Sunday, with the aim of approving them for second and third readings before the November 14 deadline.

Ministers at the Knesset Plenum on October 4, 2021 (credit: DANNY SHEMTOV / KNESSET SPOKESPERSON’S OFFICE)

The first of three readings of the EAL and the budget was passed in the Knesset in September, ahead of the recess. The coalition made the decision to begin final deliberations two weeks before the deadline to allow time to deal with unforeseen delays.

If the budget is not passed by November 14, the Knesset will automatically be dissolved and new elections will be held. However, at this point it is widely expected to pass.

As Israel has not had a budget for more than three years, the one currently under debate is full of ambitious projects and reforms, many of which have been quite controversial. Among them, an agricultural reform that would increase competition in the egg and product market; an import reform that would allow more products to be sold in Israel at lower prices; open banking reform that will make the banking sector more transparent; a plan to gradually increase the retirement age for women from 62 to 65; and much more.


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