The Knesset House Committee voted on Tuesday afternoon to shrink the text of the
Economic Arrangements Bill by about 10 percent, after it and the budget passed
their first plenum vote overnight Monday despite receiving a thrashing from
coalition and opposition MKs.
The budget was approved in its first
reading with 58 lawmakers in favor and 44 opposed, but not before MKs from the
coalition and the opposition spent nearly nine hours bashing Finance Minister
Yair Lapid’s plans for 2013 and 2014.
The Economic Arrangements bill is
passed alongside the state budget and meant to lay out the government’s economic
policy in greater detail. The bill tends to be lengthy and often includes
articles that are not related to the budget.
However, at least 14 of
those articles will be removed and voted on as separate legislation or brought
through committees other than the Finance Committee, in accordance with Lapid’s
promise to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Lapid was not spared the wrath
of coalition MKs on Monday night, with strong criticism coming from the Likud's
few non-ministers and several Bayit Yehudi legislators.
MK Gila Gamliel
(Likud Beytenu), the coalition budget coordinator in the Knesset Finance
Committee, slammed the 2013-14 draft budget, listing several sections that
“cannot be approved by the committee, because they have no
“Unfortunately, when I look at the budget, I see
inexperience,” she said. “Where is the logic? Where is the long-term vision? Do
After Gamliel’s speech, opposition leader Shelly
Yacimovich (Labor) joked: “Come sit in my seat, Gila.”
Gamliel walked out
of the plenum rather than vote for the budget.
“We need to find a more
just path. We cannot harm those who are helpless. A society who does not help
the helpless cannot be called a society,” MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu)
MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) called the defense budget “fat and
overinflated,” and criticized the IDF for cutting reservists’ training
Bayit Yehudi MK Zvulun Kalfa called for Lapid to find a way not to
harm Torah study in his budget, while increasing equality.
will find it very difficult to vote in favor of this budget if there are not
changes in relation to the Torah world,” Kalfa said.
MK Miri Regev (Likud
Beytenu) expressed confidence that the budget will be significantly changed in
the Knesset Finance Committee.
“The whole coalition has to unite and not
let [tax hikes] on housing pass,” Regev added.
After the vote, Lapid met
with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud
Beytenu) and asked the prime minister to rein in his party and make sure the
coalition is more supportive, Likud sources said.
Soon after, Gamliel was
called in to a meeting with the prime minister, in which she told him she had
warned Levin of her plans not to vote for the budget.
opposition did its job, speaking out against the budget and
Mocking Lapid for saying the working man is at the center of the
budget, MK Itzik Shmuly (Labor) said “the working man is the bulls-eye of [the
Finance Ministry’s] target.”
Labor MK Merav Michaeli pointed out that few
coalition lawmakers were present during the debate, and concluded that they must
be embarrassed by the budget.
“Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi MKs weren’t
in the plenum when the finance minister presented the budget, because they’re
ashamed. At least people will stop dying in the State of Israel, since the
cemetery budget will be cut by two-thirds,” United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael
“Beyond being able to use Facebook, there is
seriousness, maturity, action and responsibility,” MK Avishai Braverman (Labor)
said, referring to Yesh Atid and it chairman Lapid’s extensive use of the social
network. “We need a moratorium on politicians using Facebook.”
MK Yaakov Asher referred to the fact that Lapid’s office translated one of his
speeches into Yiddish, using the language to say Lapid “doesn't understand
“The finance minister didn’t take one shekel from the richest
people,” MK Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) said. “He should be ashamed. From the weaker
public, he takes again and again. This house will not let this
“If this was a vote by secret ballot, what do you think the result
would be,” MK Ya’acov Litzman (UTJ) asked Lapid.
“It would pass by a vast
majority,” the finance minister responded.
“You wouldn’t even get five
supporters! You yourself would vote against it,” Litzman said.
Yesh Atid legislators defended Lapid’s budget.
“This is hypocrisy,” MK
Pnina Tamnu-Shata said of the criticism. “Everyone knows that we need to
cover the deficit immediately. The cuts hurt, but they’re
Lapid concluded the debate by telling Yacimovich: “You could
have been in my place as finance minister, presenting your budget, but you were
afraid, and you didn’t take responsibility.”
Still, he added: “I don’t
have any complaints for the opposition. All they have left to do is
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