Israel's 2-year budget is illegitimate, good governance nonprofit alleges

Published date25 May 2023
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
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The budget's passage is seen as a triumph for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who managed to overcome various coalition members' budgetary demands and ultimatums.

The Knesset had a deadline to pass a state budget for 2023 by May 29. If the Knesset failed to pass a budget by that date, the government would have been dissolved and new elections would have been called. Although the requirement was only to pass a budget for the remainder of 2023, the Knesset passed a budget for 2024 as well.

Passing budget is one of the greatest obstacles faced by Israeli coalitions

Passing the state budget is one of the greatest obstacles faced by any Israeli coalition. As recently as 2020, the government fell due to an inability to pass a budget. The passage of a budget for 2024 as well as 2023, therefore, provides long-term stability for the coalition, but also has been criticized by some as illegitimate and undemocratic.

The Movement for Quality Government (MQG), an Israeli nonprofit devoted to promoting democracy and good governance, submitted a petition to the Supreme Court on Wednesday alleging that the biennial budget was illegal.

The petition drew on the precedent of a 2017 Supreme Court judgment that mandated a one-year budget because of the problems associated with budgets of more than one year. Israel first passed a two-year budget in 2009. In November 2021, the government passed a budget for December 2021 as well as all of 2022.

Ariel Barzilay, a lawyer and the head of MQG's economic wing, told The Media Line that a biennial budget is problematic for two reasons. First, the longer-term budget reduces the Knesset's ability to oversee government decisions. Israel also might be in a significantly different economic situation in 2024 if the proposed judicial reforms are passed, and the budget doesn't take that into account, Barzilay said.

On the other hand, Yechiel Leiter, a public policy analyst, director-general of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and former chief of staff to Netanyahu at the Finance Ministry, told The Media Line that the two-year budget approval is a sign of government stability, which will have positive effects on Israel.

Senior Israeli economic consultant Alex Coman said that the nearly 998-billion-shekel ($269 billion) budget will not actually be implemented...

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