(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Opposition parties showed a united front on Monday against the government’s proposed 2015 budget.
The leaders of most of the opposition’s parties vowed to fight the budget as a team, speaking at a joint press conference.
“Some say this opposition is more heterogeneous than homogeneous, but we know how to set goals and fight for them and against [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu]. Our motto should be ‘Anyone but Bibi,’” Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel said, using Netanyahu’s nickname.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) said the press conference marks an escalation in their battle.
“The prime minister promised to lower the cost of living and housing, but he is shirking his responsibilities. He’s hiding behind the finance minister [Yair Lapid], but this is his bad budget, which offers no hope for low-income people, the middle class, young, old and anyone who wants to buy a home,” Herzog said.
The Labor chairman vowed to “leave no stone unturned in this budget and to show on what the government is spending its money.” He plans to order detailed research on the 2015 budget proposal so that the opposition will know what exactly to fight.
Shas chairman Arye Deri said the opposition’s job is not just to shout but to actually block the budget.
“We can’t let the government have an easy life,” he said. “The government should be embarrassed by what it is doing. We should bring unemployed people to the Knesset so it can see.”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On concurred: “The opposition’s job is to wear out the government. The Netanyahu government is insensitive to the citizens of this country. The budget is a slap in the face to working families.”
Gal-On called for Yesh Atid and Hatnua to leave the coalition and create an alternative government.
MK Ya’acov Litzman, chairman of the Agudath Yisrael party within the United Torah Judaism faction, said that the opposition should first focus on toppling the 0% VAT on housing proposal. He posited that if the opposition is united it can achieve its goals, pointing out that the final vote on the 0% VAT bill has been delayed thus far.
“It’s clear to everyone this coalition won’t last, and we are the next coalition. I have faith in Herzog,” MK Moshe Gafni, chairman of the Degel Hatorah party within the UTJ faction, said.
Referring to the news of questionable expenses in government ministries, Gafni said: “We promise that when we’re in the coalition and are ministers, we won’t put refrigerators in our cars. This is a scandal, because citizens of Israel were promised that this government will lower the cost of living.”
The one person who broke the united front was MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), who made a dig at Labor for sending a letter to its UK counterpart before the British Parliament voted on October 13 on whether or not to recognize a Palestinian state.
“We need to take advantage of the momentum and act like an opposition,” he said. “The leading party of the opposition shouldn’t act like [the Likud] and do things against a two-state solution.”
Immediately after the press conference, Lapid addressed his Yesh Atid faction, saying that the budget “helps citizens instead of asking them to help [the government].”
Lapid pointed out that the budget increases the government’s investment in education by NIS 1.8 billion, in health by NIS 3.1b., in public security by NIS 1b. and in welfare by NIS 1.7b., “taking actual action to take populations out of the cycle of poverty.
“The government has no better or more efficient tool than the budget to express its priorities and values. These are our values,” Lapid said.