Israeli Parliament approves state budget

TEL AVIV, Sept. 18, 2019 (Xinhua) — Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz gives a speech during a rally with supporters in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sept. 17, 2019. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main challenger Benny Gantz said on Wednesday morning that it is too early to declare a victory in the country’s parliamentary elections and called for a unity government. Initial exit polls posted by Israel’s three main TV channels showed Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party had a slight lead over Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party in Tuesday’s vote, hurting Netanyahu’s chances of winning a record-breaking fifth term. (Photo by Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua/IANS)

Tel Aviv, Sep 3 (IANS) The Israeli Parliament has approved the state budget in a preliminary vote years after two years of a political deadlock.

On Thursday, the lawmakers voted 59-54 in favour of the proposed budget, a spokesperson for the Parliament, or Knesset, said in a statement.

The vote means the budget still needs to pass two additional rounds of votes before it gets final approval, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to a statement issued earlier by the Finance Ministry, the state budget for 2021 will be about 432.5 billion shekels ($135 billion) and about 452.5 billion shekels for 2022 ($141 billion.)

The approval is widely regarded as a major milestone to the cross-partisan coalition government headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who succeeded the country’s longest-serving leader Benjamin Netanyahu in June.

The budget proposal was approved in early August by Bennett’s cabinet.

It would go now to discussions at a Parliament committee, which will prepare it for the second and third round of votes at the Knesset plenum.

The budget needs to be approved by the Knesset by a November 5 deadline, otherwise Parliament will be automatically dissolved and new elections will be called.

During the past two years of political deadlock and four elections, Israel used a version of the state budget for 2019, which was approved in March 2018.

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