Israel's parliament passed the 2023-2024 national budget on Wednesday, gaining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a political reprieve following months of unprecedented protests against his religious-nationalist coalition's judicial overhaul plans.
The spending package of 484 billion shekels ($131 billion) for this year and 514 billion shekels ($139 billion) for next year was ratified in a final vote of 64 to 56 in the Knesset, a parliament statement said.
The contested state budget has stirred nationwide controversy over increased allocations of subsidies to Netanyahu's allies and thousands of Israelis rallied outside the Knesset building in Jerusalem on Tuesday night ahead of the vote.
Under the new budget, the government will allocate 14 billion shekels (about $3.8 billion) to Netanyahu's political allies, ultra-Orthodox and pro-settler parties and organizations, instead of spending it on creating growth engines for the Israeli economy, welfare and fighting Israel's skyrocketing cost of living, according to Centrist leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid.
"This budget is a disaster for the country's economy," Lapid said.
(With input from agencies)