On Friday, the cabinet voted for approving a two-year budget to prepare it for a vote in the Knesset, which is expected to secure the hardline government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the next two years.
An NIS 484 billion budget has been approved for 2023, which puts it around $131.3 billion. This marks an increase from the previous year worth $8.55 billion.
In 2024, the budget would increase to NIS 514 billion, which puts it around $139.5 billion. Itamar Ben Gvir, the National Security Minister, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the budget.
His office will receive a boost of $2.44 billion. His demand had been a boost of $3.8 billion and when negotiations hit a block, he had also boycotted a meeting earlier in the week.
The additional funds would be used for recruiting thousands of new police officers, hundreds of firefighters and more than 1,200 new prison guards.
In the coming year, prison guards and police officers would also receive a pay raise and a national guard would also be established.
Haim Katz, the Tourism Minister, was absent for the voting process on Friday in protest of the plan of the government of ending the exemption of VAT tax for tourists.
The major changes
As compared to last year, there will be an increase of $3.8 billion in the budget of the Education Ministry, which will allow some new plans to be implemented.
One of these is for increasing special education programming and the other is aimed at reducing the disparities that exist between students coming from different backgrounds.
However, there was one thing that was not included in the plan. This was funding for providing children up to the age of three years free education, something that Netanyahu had pledged in his campaign.
But, the proposed budget did have a clause, which said that the government would advance free education for children between the ages of 2 and 3, which would cost about $1 billion in just one year.
The Finance Ministry has opposed this measure over concerns that it would put the coffers of the state under burden.
The budget of the Health Ministry has also received a boost, which will be used for adding beds to hospitals across the country that are overcrowded as well as for mental health programming.
In order to provide the additional funding, all ministries have agreed to cut their funding by about 3%. The budget will now be sent for markup to the Knesset.
It is expected to be brought forward for its first reading by the end of March. Netanyahu was extremely pleased with the approval of the budget by the cabinet.
He said that economy is strong and it would become stronger with the support of ministers. The vote of the cabinet comes after numerous economists have warned about potential fallout of the judicial overhaul.
An official warning had also been issued by Shira Greenberg, the chief economist of the Finance Ministry, in the budget forecast that had been published this week.