Haredis Demand Higher Budget Requirements, Putting Netanyahu’s Coalition in Jeopardy.

Tensions escalated today, Sunday, within the government coalition in Israel amid demands by the haredim to allocate more money to the budget for religious groups, without which the government will fall.

The Knesset is preparing to vote on the overall budget for 2023-2024, appropriating NIS 484.8 billion this year and NIS 513.7 billion in 2024, up from NIS 452.5 billion in 2022. Failure to adopt the state budget by May 29 will lead to the automatic dissolution of the government and early elections.

Yitzhak Goldnopf, the leader of the Agudat Yisrael faction of the United Torah Judaism party, has threatened to withdraw from the government coalition and vote for the budget if he promises to add the necessary funds for full-time Jewish scholars in addition to the billions already promised by the ultra-Orthodox community is not kept.

Goldknopf emphasized that these promises were part ofFrom a coalition deal with the Likud Party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Goldknopf insisted he was unwilling to give in to the request for additional funds and gave Netanyahu until Sunday to respond to his ultimatum.

Unnamed senior members of the coalition said it would be “crazy” to revise the budget at this stage after a lengthy approval process by the Knesset Finance Committee, Channel 12 reported.

The Agudat Yisrael faction has 3 members in the 120-member Knesset, which means a coalition of 64 members can pass the budget without their votes. However, the faction called on another faction of United Torah Judaism, Dejal HaTorah, led by Moshe Gafni, to comply with its demand.

In addition, several reports suggested that Goldknopf had threatened to resign as Minister of Housing and Construction, allowing him to return to the Knesset as the fourth member of the Agudat Yisrael by law to vote against the budget. A report last Thursday said Jerusalem Affairs Minister Meir Porush, also of the Agudat Yisrael faction, had threatened to do the same.

Despite all this, close associates of Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich have calculated that the budget will end without problems, since coalition partners are not interested in overthrowing the government. Opinion polls consistently show that the current coalition parties will not be able to win a parliamentary majority if elections are held now.

On Saturday, about 150,000 anti-government protesters demonstrated across the country, including over budgetary priorities.

Protest organizers said they would hold a rally outside the Knesset on Tuesday during the budget debate.

Source: Times of Israel.

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