Smotrich (right): Reservists and their families are priorities for the State of Israel, and they are the pillar of the 2024 budget (Reuters)

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the cabinet is due to approve the 2024 war budget on Thursday, after ministers approved NIS 9 billion ($2.5 billion) in financial support for reservists.

In a joint statement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant, Smotrich added, "Reservists and their families are priorities of the State of Israel, and they are the pillar of the 2024 budget that we will present this weekend."

Last year, before the start of the aggression on the Gaza Strip, Israel approved a budget for 2023 and 2024, but the war on Gaza severely damaged the government's public finances, requiring budget adjustments and additional spending.

Last month, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) approved a special war budget for 2023 worth 30 billion shekels ($8.33 billion) to help finance the war and compensate those affected by the "Al-Aqsa Flood" operation launched by the Palestinian resistance led by the Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas, on October <>.

Smotrich's spokesman said a budget vote was likely on Thursday, but gave no further details.

The finance ministry said the war would likely cost at least another NIS 50 billion ($14 billion) in 2024 and increase its budget deficit nearly threefold to about 3 percent of gross domestic product if the fighting continues until February.

Opposition position

Two days ago, the finance ministry's professional staff proposed closing 10 unnecessary ministerial offices, while Smotrich voiced opposition to the proposal.

At the time, opposition leader Yair Lapid renewed the demand to transfer the budgets of the government coalition agreements included in the 2024 budget to cover the expenses of the war, including the establishment of a special fund at a cost of 10 billion shekels to compensate the reserve forces, which was proposed by opposition leader Yair Lapid.

In light of the war on Gaza, the economic crisis and the recession in the labor market, Israel's 37 government, consisting of 31 ministries, faces many internal social, political, or economic challenges, and the coalition government consists of 6 parties: Likud, Torah Judaism, Shas, Religious Zionism, Jewish Greatness and No'am.

Source: Al Jazeera + Reuters