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Israeli parliament passes budget, clearing key hurdle

Israeli parliament passes budget, clearing key hurdle
Israel’s parliament has passed a national budget for the first time in three years, avoiding a November deadline that would have triggered fresh elections

Israel’s parliament passed a national budget for the first time in three years early on Thursday, avoiding a November deadline that would have triggered fresh elections.

The marathon overnight voting on budget bills in the Knesset Israel’s parliament, was a major hurdle for the new government headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett whose fractious coalition holds a narrow majority.

Failure to pass the budget by Nov. 14 would have brought down the government that was sworn into office in June and triggered a fifth election in barely three years, giving former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an opportunity to return to power.

Bennett celebrated on Twitter, writing that “after years of chaoswe formed a government, we overcame the Delta variant, e agora, thank God we passed a budget for Israel.”

The Knesset began its overnight session of voting on a series of budget bills, including hundreds of amendments, late on Wednesday. The assembly opened with Bennett and Netanyahu delivering speeches attacking one another.

The ruling coalition headed by Bennett includes eight parties from across the political spectrum and has a razor-thin margin of 61 seats in the 120-member assembly.

Israel entered a prolonged political crisis after elections in April 2019, when a right-wing party that had been allied with Netanyahu refused to sit in a government with him while he faces criminal indictments. The next two years saw four successive deadlocked elections, and a parliament dissolved in 2020 because it failed to pass a budget.

The government formed in June includes parties ranging from ultranationalists to Islamists united by little more than a desire to avoid another Netanyahu-led government or more elections.