Middle East Monitor / May 24, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the approval of the state budget last night that the “judicial reform” to weaken the judiciary will “certainly” come back to the government’s agenda. He added, “But we are trying to reach an understanding, and I hope we will succeed in this.”
“We won the elections, we passed the budget, we’ll continue for four more years,” Netanyahu wrote on Facebook after the budget was approved.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the budget “reflects the government’s stability”, claiming it is “excellent” despite warnings from senior officials in the finance ministry that the large amounts of money that will be pumped into the ultra-Orthodox institutions may harm future growth.
Smotrich claimed that the budget will encourage capital investment in high-tech and will allow massive investment in the health system that has been neglected for years, huge investment in the ability to govern and the security apparatus, and massive investment in higher education and the education system at all levels.
He added: “The Israeli economy is one of the most stable and strongest economies. When economic storms occurred in the world, we were the first to emerge from it. This is the case now too thanks to the budget.”
The Arnona property tax law, he added, which takes money from the local authorities in Israel and transfers it to illegal settlements without local Arab authorities benefitting, will correct a flaw that has existed for years.
For his part, the head of the opposition, Yair Lapid, described the budget as “the worst and most destructive budget in the history of the country.” He noted: “There is no good news in it, there is no fight against the cost of living, there is only endless extortion. This budget is a violation of the contract with the citizens of Israel. All of us and our children and our children’s children will pay for it.”
The head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and former Finance Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, tweeted: “This budget is a black spot in the history of the State of Israel. It is a process of plundering the public treasury and leads to the destruction of the Israeli economy, and severely targets the middle class, and those who serve in the army and perform service in the reserves, workers and taxpayers. Those who supported the budget bear full responsibility for the economic tsunami we are heading towards in the coming months.”
While the head of the National Unity list, Benny Gantz, said: “This is a sad day for the State of Israel.”