Israel Passes First Budget in More Than 3 Years

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Parliament narrowly approved a state budget on Thursday, the country’s first in more than three years, removing an imminent threat to the survival of the government and potentially paving the way to some political stability after a chaotic stretch of four elections within two years.

“A holiday for the state of Israel!” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett exulted on Twitter shortly after the pre-dawn vote. “We are moving ahead with full force.”

But the razor-thin majority eked out by Mr. Bennett’s coalition of eight parties with clashing ideologies and agendas raised questions about its longer-term prospects and whether Israel has truly emerged from years of political morass.

The previous Parliament dispersed late last year after it failed to meet the deadline for approving a budget for 2020. That was because Mr. Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, did not present a budget, using that as maneuver to bring down his own government.

That allowed Mr. Netanyahu to avoid honoring a rotation agreement that would have seen his main coalition partner at the time, Benny Gantz, take over as prime minister had their government survived. But the political gambit led to the March 2021 election that ultimately unseated Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister who is on trial on corruption charges.

The vote on the annual budget for what is left of 2021 passed by 61 to 59 in the 120-seat Knesset, or Parliament, with no abstentions.

It was approved after a marathon debate that included a four-hour speech by a filibustering member of the opposition. A 60:60 draw would have meant failure, and failure to pass a budget by a Nov. 14 deadline would have led to the automatic dissolution of the Parliament and new elections within three months, which was the goal of an opposition faction led by Mr. Netanyahu.

Voting on a budget for 2022 was expected to conclude late Thursday or on Friday.

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