Senior United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni called Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid a
megalomaniac and accused him of parroting information passed on by Finance
Gafni’s fierce attack against the Yesh Atid chairman
comes after Lapid, in a video published on his Facebook page on Monday just
before Passover, compared the path he has taken his party on to that which Moses
took in the biblical account of the exodus from Egypt.
“Lapid is a
megalomaniac, he doesn’t have any experience, he hasn’t even been an MK, and he
recites what clerks in the Finance Ministry tell him,” Gafni said Thursday
morning on Army Radio.
The UTJ MK was chairman of the Knesset Finance
Committee during the last Knesset.
“He compares himself to Moses our
teacher, [but] he needs first to be a slave to know [the meaning] of the public
service that has been placed upon him [but] at the moment he’s just sending out
notices on Facebook,” Gafni continued.
In his YouTube video, Lapid said
that Moses had always “done the right thing” even though it was not popular and
people had argued with him.
“He looked to the future and said ‘what does
it need to look like and where do we need to lead it to?’ and this is what Yesh
Atid has always done,” Lapid said. “It will be a long path and an
unpopular path and I’ll take the hard decisions because that is what you sent me
Earlier this week, Lapid said that the country’s financial
situation was worse than he had known and that budget cuts would need to be made
in “painful areas.”
He said that the increasing size of the budget
deficit had been caused “because instead of managing the economy in a
responsible manner, they [the previous government] took huge loans and had a
party,” Lapid wrote to Yesh Atid supporters on Sunday. “I won’t repeat these
In his interview on Thursday, Gafni said that the excuses
Lapid has been making for the proposed budget cuts were the same policies which
the Finance Ministry had been suggesting during the last Knesset term and which
Gafni and others in the government had resisted.
“We refused to accept
them. He doesn’t need to eat everything they’re feeding him, there are
other solutions,” the haredi MK said.
He added that Lapid should have
paid attention to financial problems during the election campaign instead of
focusing on the haredi community.
The haredi parties, and Shas in
particular, emphasized during the election period that they would oppose any
budget cuts and tax hikes that would affect the poorer sectors of Israeli
Gafni also accused the Israeli media of giving Lapid an easy
time over proposed budget cuts because of his supposed intention to cut budgets
During the election campaign and coalition negotiations,
Yesh Atid focused heavily on reforming the state benefits available to full-time
yeshiva students and the haredi community, as well as increasing haredi
enlistment in national service programs.
The agreement between Likud and
Yesh Atid included clauses that will make many state welfare benefits dependent
on being employed, or actively seeking employment.
This will make
full-time yeshiva study financially problematic for many haredi
Shas leader Arye Deri also had harsh words for Lapid on
Thursday regarding the government’s plans to implement deep budget
“The decrees which the government wants will take hundreds of
thousands more Israelis into poverty,” Deri said in an interview with haredi
website Kikar Hashabbat.
Deri was the architect of Shas’s election
strategy, which focused heavily on the party’s opposition to cuts in the welfare
budget. Deri and the two other Shas leaders, Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias,
frequently pointed out during the campaign that elections were called because
Shas refused to agree to a budget that would have implemented such
Deri said that in the opposition, the party would work towards
mitigating, as much as possible, the effect of budget cuts on the poor.