Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) and Shas MKs went on the offensive Monday night, hours before cuts in National Insurance Institute child allotments were set to go into effect.
"The Netanyahu-Lapid-Bennett fat cat government strikes again, and where it hurts," Yacimovich wrote on Facebook. "It injures where it's supposed to heal. Once again, [Finance Minister Yair] Lapid is taking advantage of and encouraging a mistaken and inciting idea that haredim and Arabs are the only ones who are harmed by budget cuts. First of all, a child is a child is a child."
According to Yacimovich, the average family will lose NIS 2,000 per year because of the allotment cuts.
The Labor leader took issue with a statistic Lapid cited – that only five percent of families where both parents work are poor – and said that 65% of poor families are working families.
She added that there are 870,000 poor children in Israel, more than any other Western country.
"This is an economic and national mistake, evil for its own sake, and a total detachment from people's regular lives," Yacimovich wrote.
Shas leader Arye Deri said "Lapid will fulfill his campaign promises and bring tens of thousands more children into the cycle of poverty, and thousands more families will sit around an empty holiday table."
Deri added that a government that does not have mercy on its weaker citizens does not have a right to exist.
"I call on the Bayit Yehudi and any coalition member who considers himself socially oriented to leave the government immediately and not be a partner to this crime," he stated.
Shas MK Eli Yishai said that Lapid is taking money from children's mouths and not from tycoons' debt.
"It's unfortunate that children are being sacrificed on the altar of getting more seats in the Knesset," Yishai added.
MK David Azulay (Shas) asked that the government delay the cuts until after the High Holidays in a letter sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday.
"I am appealing to your Jewish heart and hope you will postpone the cuts until after the holidays. A new school year is beginning and holidays are around the corner, and these involve a great expense for many families," Azulay wrote.
Meretz MK Ilan Gilon called it "sad" that Lapid is proud of canceling child allotments.
"Just because Lapid thinks parents should be responsible doesn't mean his policies should send tens of thousands of children under the poverty line. Before cancelling allotments, he must create ways for the families to be able to support themselves with dignity," Gilon said.
On Monday evening, Lapid posted part of an e-mail he sent to supporters Saturday night saying that cuts in child allotments will end a cycle of poverty.
“This was one of our central campaign promises, and now it’s happening,” Lapid wrote late Saturday night. “We will help needy families and set aside hundreds of millions [of shekels] to make sure no children go hungry, but [the cuts] are a historic move from a culture of allotments to a culture of work.”
According to Lapid, child allotments perpetuated poverty instead of stopping it.
“There is only one thing that allows families to get out of the cycle of poverty – work. The poverty rate in families with two working parents is under 5 percent.This is the meaning of parental responsibility and social responsibility,” he added.
The finance minister promised to do everything possible to help those who want to work, from placement programs to financial incentives for those who earn low salaries, but he will not compromise on the principle that “the Israeli middle class should not fund those who can work but choose not to.”