Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MKs in the coalition and opposition from religious parties found a surprising source of support for the Sabbath as a day of rest in Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, who criticized Finance Minister Yair Lapid for holding a press conference about a non-urgent budget-related matter on a Saturday.
“While you were enjoying your Shabbat, Lapid decided to pull all the economic journalists out of their homes in the middle of Shabbat and order them to his driveway in Tel Aviv to hear him read an unimportant message in which he praised Israel’s credit rating by S&P,” Gal-On wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.
The Meretz leader said Lapid chose to inconvenience the press on the weekend because he knew the Prime Minister’s Office could not respond on Shabbat and the finance minister would get half a day of headlines, “a media advantage in his idiotic battle with the prime minister on who is the ‘winner’ in the war on the terrible budget they’re preparing for us,” Gal-On wrote.
She said that Lapid’s press conference took a minute-anda- half, “but that certainly is enough to ruin the Saturday of photographers and reporters who had to go hear what the honorable finance minister had to say… [and] shows a lack of consideration [by Lapid] toward those reporters who had to hear what he said on Shabbat afternoon instead of playing with their children or just resting.”
Of course, Gal-On mentioned that there is no public transportation in Tel Aviv on Shabbat – a major Meretz platform for which Lapid also expressed support in the past – making it difficult for reporters without a car to reach the press conference.
Plus, Lapid put the message on Facebook minutes after reading it to the press, leading Gal-On to wonder why he needed the reporters and photographers on his driveway at all.
Shas leader Arye Deri said that, in a rare occurrence, he agrees with Gal-On.
“Lapid’s disrespect for the basic Jewish values of the State of Israel, which sanctifies Saturday as its official day of rest, is unacceptable and stands out when he calls up media staff in the middle of the day of rest for non-urgent matters that could be postponed to another day,” Deri stated.
MK Ya’acov Litzman (UTJ ) said it was wrong for Lapid to desecrate the Sabbath in public, as opposed to what is customary for ministers, and that the finance minister’s behavior shows he lacks basic values.
Litzman called on Lapid to apologize for his show of disrespect for the values of the Jewish people.
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel tweeted: “I heard on Saturday night that the finance minister reached an agreement on the budget, but why is that the reporters fault, so they’d have to cut their Shabbat rest short for a ‘dramatic’ message?” Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said “the desire to receive credit is not a good enough excuse for the finance minister to harm the values of the Jewish state.”
MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli said that Bayit Yehudi, as a religious party, cannot sit in coalition with a party that desecrates Shabbat for political gain.
“Lapid has the right to do what he wants in his private home… but he is working on Shabbat and desecrating the day of rest in an attempt to get a few lost [Knesset] seats… as though it were a regular work day,” she stated.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.