Finance Minister Yair Lapid is damaging the legislature’s image by choosing to
give important speeches elsewhere, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said on
“Lapid’s decision disgraces the institution of the
Knesset, degrades its members from all factions and severely harms the image of
the Knesset and its members,” Edelstein said.
His comments followed an
email Lapid sent to supporters on Friday, in which he explained that he
delineated his economic plans the previous earlier at the Institute for National
Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv, and not in his first speech to the
Knesset on Tuesday, because of hecklers.
“An elected official was sent by
his voters to the Knesset, which is his work place, and therefore, it would be
appropriate for him to speak to the nation from there,” the Knesset speaker
added. “Whoever decides to make his important speeches outside of the Knesset
will have to pass his laws outside the Knesset!” he quipped.
Edelstein, now especially, while the 2013-14 state budget is being prepared, the
finance minister should allow for a dialogue with representatives of different
population groups that could be affected by the budget.
On Friday, Yesh
Atid chairman Lapid sent an email to supporters in which he recounted a
conversation he had with MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) on Tuesday,
immediately after Lapid’s speech during which he and haredi MKs argued
Lapid wrote that he told Gafni he’s making a mistake by
heckling him, because he could not finish a sentence without interruption, and
is going to give his speech to the INSS.
“I would have preferred to give
the speech in the Knesset,” Lapid said. “In my eyes, it is more democratic and
appropriate that MKs be the first to hear from the finance minister his economic
plans, and not read about them in the newspaper the next
According to Lapid, Gafni responded: “True, so why don’t you do
that?” “We both know exactly what will happen. I will start talking, and you
will scream and shout, and I won’t be able to explain anything,” Lapid said he
responded. “An economic vision is complex and deserves to have an intelligent
debate about it, based on facts. I need 25 minutes to explain the budget, and it
doesn’t seem to me to be asking too much for MKs to listen and not interrupt
when I’m discussing something that will determine how the country’s budget is
Lapid then challenged Gafni to ask the opposition to stay quiet and
allow him to present the budget in peace, and Gafni said he would get back to
the finance minister. “Of course, he never got back to me, and he probably never
will,” Lapid concluded.
Soon after, Gafni responded, opening by
congratulating Lapid on writing on a Friday before Shabbat began, echoing his
criticism of the finance minister earlier that week.
“I read your letter
and the story is correct, but you forgot to mention the most important detail,”
Gafni wrote. “I told you we will no longer give you the satisfaction of arguing
over the haredi issue. We will demand what the nation justly demands – clear,
economic responses to your fatal blows to the middle class and weaker
According to Gafni, Lapid said that while he believes Gafni
will hold back, he thinks other haredi MKs will not be able to
Gafni retorted that heckling in the plenum is part of the
democratic process in the Knesset and in parliaments around the world, and
hinted to the fact that Lapid’s father, former justice minister Yosef “Tommy”
Lapid excelled in it.
“As for the marks you give me on my behavior in the
plenum, leave it, Yair, the voters already did that, and gave UTJ two additional
seats – almost 30 percent more than in the previous election – for our
management of the Knesset Finance Committee and the Health Ministry,” the UTJ MK
According to Gafni, Lapid is ruining his party’s achievements, by
raising income tax after it was lowered by 2 percent in the last Knesset. Gafni
called for Lapid to refrain from raising value-added tax, as well.