Israel’s top budget priorities: Jewish identity and… street cats?

The street cat budget drew ire from opposition MK Avi Maoz of the Religious Zionism party.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

As the November deadline to pass a national budget looms nearer, Israel’s Finance Ministry announced where some 2 billion in coalition funding will be allocated for the 2022 fiscal year.

The meeting, held in the Knesset on Tuesday, revealed which members of the eclectic ruling coalition had scored funding for the issues that are often featured heavily in their party platforms.

If Israel’s current government – made up of eight parties spanning from the left to right ends of the political spectrum, and which has a razor thin majority of just 61 seats – fails to pass a state budget by November 14th, the Knesset will be automatically dissolved and Israel will head to its fifth round of national elections in less than three years.

One of the highlights of the funding was 6 million shekels set aside at the request of the Yesh Atid party, specifically for an Agriculture Ministry project providing care for Israel’s street cats.

The street cat budget drew ire from opposition MK Avi Maoz of the Religious Zionism party.

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Parodying Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s party line that the current Knesset is a “government of all its citizens,” Maoz charged that Israel has “a government of all its cats.”

Citing a recent vote by the government to deny a salary raise for IDF soldiers, Maoz noted that “there is no budget for soldiers, for families in need, [but] there [is for] cats.”

“It is not possible to raise taxes, to cut back funds for the weak, to hurt subsidies for daycare, and cats have a budget,” he added.

“Shame on the government, the citizens of Israel deserve more, they deserve another government.”

MK Nir Orbach of the Yamina party scored big, getting 50 million shekels for projects aimed at strengthening Jewish identity.

According to Channel 12 News, the money will be used to bolster Jewish communities within mixed Arab-Jewish municipalities and encourage Jewish education and outreach.

Orbach’s allocation comes in addition to a separate 16.5 million shekels for Jewish identity projects, obtained by Yamina MK Idit Silman via the Education Ministry.