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Israel’s Cabinet passes state budget

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Israel’s Cabinet narrowly passed the 2009 state budget after 16 hours of deliberations.

Thirteen ministers voted in favor of the budget and 12 against, with Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon abstaining, late Sunday.

The votes in favor came from 11 members of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima Party and the two remaining members of the Pensioners’ Party. Kadima member Shaul Mofaz, who is running to replace Olmert, and the members of the Labor and Shas parties, voted against.

During the marathon negotiations, Olmert said he would fire Cabinet ministers who did not vote for the budget. Five ministers who were convinced to support the financial plan reportedly were promised additional funding for their offices.

The approved budget emphasizes socioeconomic issues – there were no cuts in funding for the elderly and children – and includes defense cuts.

The budget still has a long way to go before it goes before the full Knesset. Candidates for the leadership of Kadima, who will be elected next month and likely form a new government, have said they would make changes to the budget if elected.

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