Blamed by rookie finance minister for Israel’s huge deficit, the ultra-Orthodox MKs accuse Lapid of inciting hatred & scapegoating them to divert attention away from his planned tax hikes.
“He’s using the haredim as a means of distraction and a way to avoid the real questions about the enormous measures he’s imposing on the public,” said MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) who confronted Lapid at the plenum. “It will be because of him that Israelis take to the streets again soon enough.”
Other haredi MKs joined Gafni in accusing the new finance minister of inciting hatred against the ultra-Orthodox public in order to gain sympathy before imposing tough economic measures on the public.
Answering haredi criticism of the impending budget cuts, Lapid accused haredi officials on Monday of creating the huge deficit he inherited as finance minister.
To a heckling Gafni, Lapid responded: “We’re tired of taking your orders. Israel doesn’t belong to you.”
“The Israeli public is far more intelligent that Lapid gives it credit and will soon take to the streets again,” Gafni said in response on Monday.
“Instead of dealing with the tough questions such as why he’s hurting the middle and lower classes, the finance minister is hoping to get some peace by slamming the haredim. We won’t let him avoid the real question every Israeli citizen is asking himself: Why is Lapid raising taxes again? Why is he raising the VAT and hurting the weak?”
MK Yaakov Litzman said, “Israel’s finance minister is unprofessional and petty. Minister Lapid would rather focus on the haredim than deal with the economy and the tough measures he’s going to impose on the lower classes in his plan to starve thousands of children.
“As usual, the Facebook minister chooses to draw attention away from the real debate towards a discourse of hate and polarization.”
But the most scathing response came from MK Eli Yishai (Shas) who wrote a particularly sarcastic post on his Facebook page. “Dear friends, I wish to apologize to you, as well as the rest of the Israeli people,” Yishai wrote.
“I am to blame for Israel’s deficit. Over the years, myself, members of my family as well as my neighbors and acquaintances and the rest of the haredi population have robbed the Israeli taxpayer. Who do you think financed my trips abroad, the five star hotels where all haredim stay, the Mercedes in the driveway? Yair Lapid, your arrogant speech has forced me to confess to it all.”
Avital Lahav contributed to this report.
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