'Don’t let that happen': Lapid urges ministers to oppose budget changes

Jerusalem, Nov 27 (IANS) Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapid has asked the Benjamin Netanyahu-led government to reconsider the decision to approve the updated 2023 budget on Monday, in light of political promises that remain embedded within the framework, the media reported.

“I appeal to all government ministers, to all coalition members — you are signatories to these funds… You have the power to stop it… You can’t do this to the citizens of Israel,” Lapid said while speaking at the outset of his Yesh Atid party’s faction meeting at the Knesset.

He calls the decision to fund political priorities “more proof that the State of Israel is fighting for its life (in the war against Hamas) with an army of heroes but with the wrong government and the wrong Prime Minister”.

Later on Monday, the cabinet is expected to approve changes to the remaining 2023 budget, in order to direct about NIS 30 billion toward wartime priorities, The Times of Israel reported.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich did not cut several politically-motivated funding guarantees, which were approved with the state budget in May as part of a discretionary package of so-called coalition funds.

An October cabinet decision froze not-yet-transferred coalition funds, including a controversial NIS 300 million promise for ultra-Orthodox private schools.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is paving the way for hundreds of millions of shekels to flow to settler priorities in the West Bank.

Only the National Unity party’s five cabinet ministers are committed to voting against the budget, and it is expected to clear the cabinet and move on toward the Knesset for final approval.

By approving the budgetary changes without axing the discretionary items, Lapid says, the premier and Smotrich are “currently transferring NIS 1.5 billion of coalition funds for 2023, and another NIS 5 billion for 2024″.



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