Israel: Parliament grants controversial funds to ultra-Orthodox Jews in budget

Israel: Parliament grants controversial funds to ultra-Orthodox Jews in the budget


The Israeli parliament granted controversial funds to ultra-Orthodox Jews in the state budget for 2023-2024 approved by parliament on Wednesday, funding of tens of millions of euros denounced by the opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. 

Thousands of people demonstrated in Jerusalem on Tuesday against the allocation of public funding to ultra-Orthodox Jews, accusing the ruling coalition to “loot” the country.

The day before, Netanyahu announced that the state would grant married ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who pursue religious studies rather than work a package of 250 million shekels (62.5 million euros), in addition to allowances already benefiting the ultra-Orthodox community, as part of a last-minute deal with one of the ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition.

The budget was finally approved overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday by a majority of 64 deputies out of the 120 in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), corresponding to those elected by Mr. Netanyahu's “right-wing bloc”.

< p>“We won the elections, we passed the budget, we continue for another four years”, welcomed Mr. Netanyahu on his Facebook account, after having worked in recent weeks to meet the budgetary demands of his partners in coalition to reach an agreement.

Mr Netanyahu's government, which combines right, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, had until May 29 to pass a budget or call new elections.< /p>

With high inflation, rising interest rates and the devaluation of the shekel in recent months, a budget with “engines of growth” would have been better than “cash transfers” to the ultra-Orthodox institutions, Asher Blass, an economics professor at Ashkelon Academic College, told AFP.

He stressed that the country's fiscal situation had already been “worse” but that the trajectory n was “not good”.