Failure to pass the budget by November 14 would have brought down the government that was sworn into office in June
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 November 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.
Mr. Bennett celebrated on Twitter, writing that “after years of chaos — we formed a government, we overcame the Delta variant, and now, 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 Mr. Bennett and Mr. Netanyahu delivering speeches attacking one another.
Early Thursday morning, the Knesset voted 61-59 in favour of a 2021 budget bill, the first approved by Parliament since 2018.
Later in the day lawmakers will reconvene to vote on a budget for 2022.
The ruling coalition headed by Mr. Bennett includes eight parties from across the political spectrum and has a razor-thin margin of 61 seats in the 120-member assembly.
Eitan Ginzburg, a coalition lawmaker, said in an interview with Army Radio that by passing the 2021 budget, “we avoided fifth elections, stabilised the political system and the economy as well.” Israel entered a prolonged political crisis after elections in April 2019, when a right-wing party that had been allied with Mr. 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 was 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 Mr. Netanyahu-led government or more elections.