At 5 a.m. last Thursday, the Knesset passed the 2021 state budget, the first to be voted into law through the normal parliamentary process since 2018. The vote signifies the end of three years of gridlock, especially since failed budget negotiations were the proximate cause of the cycle of short-lived governments and of inconclusive elections. With this hurdle behind it, the current coalition, fragile and unlikely though it is, has proved its staying power—even if what the next months and even weeks will bring is anyone’s guess. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:
Once a vaunted economic reformer, Benjamin Netanyahu had grown, so [the leaders of the current government] argue, increasingly staid and defensive, stalling major reforms and allowing national problems—from soaring crime in the Arab community to a rising cost of living driven by overzealous state bureaucracies and corporate monopolies—to fester and grow.
This coalition, in other words, set out to prove that Netanyahu was not irreplaceable, and, indeed, that it was Netanyahu who had gridlocked Israel’s government. The pinnacle of that gridlock was Netanyahu’s blunt refusal to pass a state budget law last year, in a transparent attempt to deny [his main coalition partner] Benny Gantz his agreed-upon turn in the prime minister’s chair by toppling the 2020 unity government.
Seen through this lens, the state budget law takes on a totemic role. This is no mere act of governance or fiscal policy. It isn’t even about the dramatic reforms meant to streamline import regulations, increase transparency and competition among banks, or reduce corruption in the state kashrut supervision system. In the terms by which the new government measures itself, it is a vindication of the many difficult compromises that were required to reach this point.
The new government now fancies itself more than a momentary union to oust a long-sitting premier; it is, in its own imagination, an alliance fighting for the principle that good governance must trump petty politics and responsible stewardship triumph over personal ambition. With the budget’s passage, it has found its grounding ideology.
Read more on Times of Israel: https://www.timesofisrael.com/budget-in-hand-bennetts-once-brittle-coalition-proves-it-can-take-on-netanyahu/