Knesset MKs at plenum 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Knesset will hold an emergency discussion of expected budget cuts and
statements by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, after Labor faction chairman Isaac
Herzog gathered the requisite signatures Tuesday to call a meeting during the
A date for the meeting has yet to be set, but Herzog
showed the 50 signatures to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who acquiesced to
the request to have a plenum discussion on the budget.
“I suggest that
the finance minister not only speak to Mrs. Cohen from Hadera, but also to Mr.
[Meir] Cohen, the welfare minister, and get from him data about the distribution
of income in this country and the serious social gaps,” Herzog said.
Monday, Lapid described on his Facebook page a theoretical 37-year-old woman
named Ricki Cohen who, together with her husband, earn NIS 20,000 per month to
support their three children.
Lapid said that the state should consider
the education it provides the Cohens’ children (which he said should include
longer school days), the quality of services at government offices, ineffective
police and lack of competition in the financial sector. He lamented the health
system he said was crumbling, the lack of a unified public transportation
payment system and the fact the Cohen children were considering whether they
even wanted to live in Israel when they grew up.
Though the Cohens have an apartment and travel abroad every other year, Lapid
said, they would not be able to afford to buy an apartment for one of their kids
when they grew up.
The Finance Ministry should work to increase
Cohen’s quality of life and reduce her cost of living, he
Herzog criticized Lapid on Tuesday, saying that “there are
many Mrs. Cohens who barely make NIS 5,000 and cannot finish the
That is the real middle class.”
According to a 2012 Bank of
Israel report, prices of goods and services such as housing, food, electricity,
gas, and water increased faster than income for the middle class between 2007
“I congratulate the finance minister who, within two weeks,
managed to eradicate poverty and move on to the next group of needy people who
make NIS 20,000 per month,” Shas leader Eli Yishai said sarcastically of Lapid’s
Yishai called for Lapid to travel outside of the “Hadera-
Gedera” borders, saying that “NIS 20,000 per month is the wet dream of a million
“Lapid must be concerned with the welfare of all Israeli
citizens, not just his voters,” the Shas MK added. “A million poor people, as
well as other population groups, cannot be excluded and ignored.
will not solve the problem, it will make it worse.”
According to Meretz
leader Zehava Gal-On, Lapid spent the last two weeks writing on Facebook and
surrounding himself with right-wing advisers that want to destroy the welfare
state and benefit the rich.
“Lapid knows how to use new media and talks
about new politics, but names like Uri Yogev, who he is considering appointing
as Finance Ministry director-general, are the oldest politics possible,” Gal-On
wrote on Facebook.
“Yogev and the other economists surrounding Lapid are
directly responsible for the dramatic rise in inequality in the last 10 years
and the continued wear on the middle class.”
The Meretz chairwoman wrote
that Yogev is close with Netanyahu and lowered taxes for the wealthy while
decreasing welfare services.
“The new-old advisers Lapid is appointing
will ensure that the massive deficit that they created will be covered by the
weaker sectors of society and the real middle class, and the Finance Ministry
will continue serving the same group of wealthy people,” she
Meanwhile, Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah defended Lapid, saying the
finance minister was simply trying to put a human face on economic
“People can cling to one detail or another, but what’s
important is to remember that this is a discussion of everyone’s future and
quality of life,” Shelah told Army Radio.Niv Elis contributed to this