Final 2022 budget approval delayed after MK coalition vote

After the coalition appeared on track to approve the 2022 budget ahead of schedule, the final vote was pushed back after a coalition member accidentally voted against one of the budget’s hundreds of clauses on Thursday evening. The 2021 budget was adopted early Thursday morning, avoiding the threat of early elections.

Labor MP Emilie Moatti mistakenly pressed the wrong button during a vote to approve funds for building classrooms, leading to a 59-59 tie and the measure’s defeat.

Moatti said she was sorry for the mistake, blaming it on “only two hours of sleep” after the overnight session that approved the 2021 budget at 5 a.m.

The move was the first of hundreds of budget votes that went unsuccessful when the coalition had just one vote ahead of the opposition.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu accidentally voted with the coalition on several occasions during the marathon sessions, and party leaders have expressed concerns over fatigue and mistakes bogging down the process, which began on Tuesday with many long speeches, followed by a seemingly endless stream of votes since Wednesday. afternoon.

Despite the delay, which delayed the final plenum vote by several hours, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pledged passing the NIS 573 billion ($ 183 billion) state budget for 2022 would be worth it. .

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his colleagues, including Coalition Chair Irit Silman (back behind closed doors), meet in the Knesset as the state budget for 2021 is approved on November 4, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

“I know you are tired, stay strong, the budget will be passed,” he pleaded with coalition lawmakers in a brief Knesset statement.

“When the budget is passed, the State of Israel will enter a different era,” Bennett added. “The government is stable and we know exactly where to lead the country. “

Due to Moatti’s bad luck, the coalition was forced to submit this section of the budget to the Knesset’s finance committee for a new vote, before sending it back to the plenum for approval.

Although largely a technical detail, this meeting itself produced fireworks when Likud MP Orly Levy-Abekasis was kicked out by Alex Kushnir of Yisrael Beytenu, the chairman. of the committee. As the bailiffs attempted to escort her, Levy-Abekasis berated one, repeatedly pointing a finger at the woman’s face.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to reporters in the Knesset, November 4, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

“Get your hands off me,” Levy-Abekasis told the bailiff, later named Marina Metz. “You are sassy. Do not touch me.

MK Orly Levy-Abekasis (left) is withdrawn from Knesset committee discussion, November 4, 2021 (Knesset channel screenshot)

“You are sassy,” we heard Levy-Abekasis say as she finally left the room.

According to the Ynet news site, Metz then burst into tears.

“She’s not used to Knesset members talking and behaving like this,” an anonymous person who was present told the website. “They know how to differentiate themselves and don’t get angry with Knesset workers doing their job. “

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy denounced Levy-Abekasis’ conduct towards the bailiff as “rude, harmful and humiliating.”

“Knesset employees will not be the punching bags of Knesset members who have lost control,” Levy said in a statement, adding that he had apologized to Metz in person.

Levy-Abekasis, meanwhile, claimed Metz had acted violently towards her, although a video does not appear to show physical contact between the two.

“I have never experienced violent behavior that invaded my privacy as I experienced it tonight,” she wrote on Facebook. “I really respect the Knesset ushers… but there is a way to remove Knesset members without acting violently. There is no other definition for relying heavily on the ribs except for violence and brutality. “

“I’m sorry if the bailiff was injured,” Levy-Abekasis added.

The donnybrook arrived hours after the coalition succeeded in pushing through the 2021 budget and later the Economic Arrangements Bill, which determines how funds will be disbursed. The coalition’s ability to navigate the drawn-out process and the opposition’s withdrawal of most of its objections had been hailed as a major success for Bennett’s unlikely ruling alliance of eight disparate ideological parties.

It was also seen as a rebuke to Netanyahu, who has been unable to pass a new budget since 2018 amid a series of political deadlocks and predicted that the coalition would not be able to lead. effectively the country given the competing ideologies at play.

Failure to pass a 2021 budget by Nov. 14 would have automatically triggered a new election, a threat that expired shortly after 5 a.m. on Thursday with a 61-59 vote according to the parties to approve the 2021 budget.

The coalition has until the end of March 2022 to approve the 2022 budget, although it is expected to do so by Friday morning after staging another overnight vote-a-thon.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (right) walks past Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during the state budget vote on November 4, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

The NIS 609 billion ($ 194 billion) spending plan for 2021 was the first budget Israel adopted since 2018, amid a prolonged political stalemate that saw successive governments fall before they could submit a proposal. in the Knesset.

Netanyahu is widely believed to have torpedoed the most recent budget, under his power-sharing government with Benny Gantz, in order to bring down this coalition and avoid handing him the post of prime minister as had been agreed between the two as part of their agreement.

This fight led directly to the fall of the last government and the most recent elections, the results of which saw Netanyahu ousted from office in June.

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