Finance Minister Yair Lapid sparked the ire of opposition MKs with his planned
budget cuts and failure to appear in the Knesset for a special meeting on the
topic, choosing instead to post a statement on Facebook.
Most of the
opposition’s criticism during a meeting it called during the Knesset’s Passover
recess targeted a rumored 20-percent increase in university tuition due to
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) read aloud from
Yesh Atid’s platform, which opposes cuts in the education budget.
in your job for two minutes, and who do you hurt first? Those you promised to
represent,” she said in a speech addressed to Lapid and Education Minister Shai
Piron, who were not in the plenum. “You’re hurting students who serve in the
army, who do reserve duty, who pay taxes. Imagine if a finance minister from
Shas hurt students first and Yesh Atid was in the opposition, how you would
scream – justifiably.”
Yacimovich said Lapid was displaying a total lack
of credibility and harming the country’s scientific research, medical, security
and technological capabilities by cutting funding to higher
“You’re cutting everything that lets us survive, blossom and
grow – you, finance minister and education minister from Yesh Atid,” she
“Have you no shame?” Over an hour after the plenum discussion began, Lapid wrote a Facebook status saying that university
students were the victim of spin, and that he had never decided to raise
“If I thought someone was going to harm students, I would go to
my house to protest against myself,” he quipped. “The upcoming budget will put
the working man at the center. A student who works in a part-time job and
prepares the academic basis for his professional life is the core of the vision
of a working man that we are leading today. He is tomorrow’s middle
Opposition MKs immediately expressed incredulity at Lapid’s
choice to defend himself on Facebook.
“The finance minister had time to
write on Facebook instead of coming to the Knesset and answering the
opposition’s questions in a respectful manner?” Yacimovich asked, standing up in
her seat. “We have reached a new low.”
She called for Knesset Speaker
Yuli Edelstein to demand that Lapid appear.
“Facebook is not a
replacement for the Knesset,” the opposition leader declared, and stormed out of
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) called Lapid a coward
for not coming to the Knesset.
“He’s running away from having to cope
with the parliament and democracy and afraid to answer the questions of Knesset
members and public representatives. He is trampling parliamentary rules, because
he prefers Facebook,” Gafni stated.
“Yesh Atid’s slogan asks, ‘Where is
the money?’ but I want to know, where is the finance minister?” asked Meretz MK
Lapid says he’s going to make a change, Horowitz
continued, but in practice he is continuing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
“cruel economic policies” and looking for money to cover the government’s
deficit in the middle class’s pockets.
Labor MK Eitan Cabel called Lapid
“Margaret Thatcher with hair gel,” referring to the recently deceased former
Conservative British prime minister.
“Lapid is making the impression of
not representing any ideology or set plan, and just choosing each morning to dry
out another, random sector of society,” the Labor MK said.
“He needs to
stop laying his hands on those who have nothing.”
MK Yitzhak Cohen (Shas)
pointed out that Lapid had said in the past that he knew nothing about
“The finance minister didn’t wait to learn. He immediately
appointed himself as Moses’s inheritor,” Cohen said, in reference to a YouTube
video Lapid released during Passover.
“Moses came down from Mount Sinai
with the two tablets, and threw them when he saw the Golden Calf. He was worried
that those who worshipped the calf would get the tablets. This is what we see
now: dances around the calf.”
Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levi
defended Lapid, calling the rumors of a tuition increase “a low, baseless spin
and nothing more.”
As for Lapid’s decision not to attend the meeting,
Levi said, “The finance minister asked me to represent him in this discussion,
because he is in the course of long and deep discussions on building a budget
that will reflect the priorities that the public chose [in the last
Levi promised that when the final budget was presented, Lapid
would present it himself and stand courageously in the plenum.