(photo credit: COURTESY OF MIKI ZOHAR)
Likud MK Miki Zohar threatened to torpedo the 2017- 18 state budget if he did not receive large amounts of coalition funds for projects under his direction, it emerged on Wednesday.
The practice of allotting coalition funds to specific projects of individual lawmakers has garnered a great deal of criticism of late, but it was the manner in which Zohar obtained the NIS 40 million in budget earmarks that has created consternation.
In recordings obtained by Army Radio, Zohar tells coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) that he will do “damage bigger than you think” if the allocations for his projects are not approved.
Zohar was at the time holding up the budget in the Finance Committee of which he is a member.
“I don’t care about anyone.
Not Bitan, not the prime minister, not the Likud, no one. Just Miki Zohar, I’ve had enough,” the MK told Bitan during the budget approval process.
In total, approximately NIS 300m. was allocated in the two-year budget for the various projects of various coalition MKs to ensure the budget was approved.
Along with the NIS 40m.for Zohar, Bitan got NIS 42m., while several other MKs were allocated similar amounts.
Following the broadcast of the recordings, Zohar said that his argument with Bitan was “a personal and emotional conversation conducted on the eve of the budget approval, during which I justly fought to receive coalition funds which I transferred to the periphery, and to strengthen the settlements and Judaism in the country.”
Added the MK, “I am proud of every shekel that I obtained for the good of the public which I serve.”
Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson said however that the recordings proved that the Likud had chosen “a path of unabashed governmental corruption,” saying he was embarrassed by the “festival of special interests” in the party, of which he was formerly a member.
“The Likud party has lost its way, and has become a party of politicos without a backbone of values,” Hasson said.
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