Knesset Approves Israel Budget 46-43, After Long Sharp Debate

Premier Yitzhak Rabin’s coalition government survived its second major test in the Knesset early today when the government’s IL 35.35 billion budget was adopted by a 46-43 vote after 14 hours of debate and parliamentary maneuvering. Had the Knesset defeated the budget, the Cabinet would have had to resign. The strong opposition used every tactic to try to defeat or delay approval of the budget which was not adopted until 2 a.m.

Knesset members who stayed through the night in the budget debate raised their hands some 150 times to approve or reject budget items and objections placed by the opposition. Everyone was so tired that at one time Rabin raised his hand even though no vote was taken. Opposition members mistakenly voted for the government and vice versa. The budget is usually approved before April 1 when the fiscal year begins. But because of the Yom Kippur War and the late elections, the Knesset had approved only an interim budget which expires Sunday. Therefore a new budget had to be adopted this week.

Only 90 out of 120 MKs were present (Moked’s Meir Payil abstained in the vote) but this was considered an unusually high turnout for a budget vote. After midnight Likud leader Menachem Beigin called for an end to speeches and a decisive vote, catching Knesset Speaker Israel Yeshayahu by surprise. He called for a 15-minute recess because he was not sure all the coalition members were present. The opposition protested but Finance Committee chairman Yisrael Kargman said “I don’t want the budget to pass with a majority of only one vote.” After a 30-minute delay all coalition MKs were back in the hall and the budget was approved by the narrow three-vote margin. Rabin’s government survived its first test on June 19 when it defeated by a 60-50 vote motions of no confidence over the issue of the United States supplying nuclear reactors to Egypt.

NEXT STORY