The Israeli government approved the 2006 State Budget by a 12-8 vote in the early hours of Wednesday, Israeli sources reported.

The budget was prepared by Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before he announced his resignation three days ago.

The budget is now pending Knesset approval. It will be presented to the parliament within two and half months.

The main opponents for the budget were the Labor ministers, most of whom – with the exception of Environment Minister Shalom Simhon – voted against it.

Education Minister Limor Livnat and Health Minister Dan Naveh, two Likud members who had said earlier that they would vote against the budget, were persuaded to approve it in nighttime talks, according to an Israel Radio report.

Interim finance minister Ehud Olmert apparently responded positively to their demands.

Naveh said his office had received another half a billion shekels in the new budget proposal, while Livnat said finance ministry officials accepted her demand that the education budget not be cut.