National Insurance Institute child allotments and taxes on housewives were the
topics of raucous debate in the Knesset Finance Committee on Sunday, with Likud
Beytenu MKs taking positions opposed to Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s
The Finance Committee held a marathon series of discussions,
which was scheduled to last for over six hours but took much longer, with the
discussion of child allotments alone taking five hours.
The meeting on
child allotments ended without a vote, as committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky
(Bayit Yehudi) asked the Finance Ministry to provide more information showing
that the policy will not sharply increase the number of children under the
Regardless of a child’s birth order or age, the budget will
pay the same amount of NIS 140 for every child in a family.
government is expected to save NIS 1 billion in 2013 and NIS 2.95b. in 2014 from
“We don’t want to increase poverty, but solve it at its
root by encouraging employment and education,” Slomiansky explained. “Most other
OECD states have higher child allotments than we do, but it comes from a need to
encourage childbirth, because [unlike Israel] many have negative population
Slomiansky told Finance Ministry representative Moshe
Bar-Siman-Tov that the committee needs to see a more complete picture of the
effects of budget cuts in order to make a decision.
Bar-Siman- Tov, deputy head of the Finance Ministry’s budget division, some
NGOs’ and parties’ statistics on poverty are inaccurate, and the government
invests large amounts of money on helping children.
“The most efficient
way to eradicate poverty is to work,” Bar-Siman-Tov said. “Very few families in
which both parents work full-time are poor.”
Likud Beytenu MK Gila
Gamliel was unimpressed with the representative’s arguments, saying that the
Finance Ministry constantly compares Israel to the OECD, but tries to hide the
facts when it’s inconvenient.
A senior coalition source told The
Jerusalem Post that the coalition counts Gamliel as an opposition member on
MK Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) blamed Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for cutting children’s allotments, pointing out that
he did the same as finance minister in 2003.
“The fact that the Finance
Ministry gives many allotments, but is cutting [the only] one for children is
connected to [Netanyahu’s] agenda, because it hurts haredim and Arabs,” Litzman
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) sided with the opposition,
saying “a child is not to blame if his parents don’t work” and suggested that
the cut be spread over several years.
“Haredi children will starve!” MK
Moshe Gafni (UTJ) warned. “We will raise money for them, but [poor secular
children] don’t have a community supporting them.”
According to Gafni,
the Finance Ministry is lying when it says the cuts are meant to encourage work,
because employers do not want to hire haredim and Arabs.
taking advantage of the Finance Minister’s naiveté and inability to argue with
them,” he added.
MK Michal Biran (Labor) said that Lapid is hurting the
whole population in his attempt to fight haredim and was retorted by Yesh Atid
MK Aliza Lavie.
“You can’t always say we hate haredim,” Lavie told Labor
MKs. “A party where no one has a kippa on his head can’t complain to
Lavie defended Lapid’s budget as one that will create a productive
civil society, and pointed out that families who need extra aid can get it from
the Welfare Ministry.
“We give other tools to eradicate poverty. We want
to end the culture of allotments and have a culture of work,” she
Shas MK Meshulam Nahari did not accept her explanation, saying
the budget “punishes children in order to take care of their parents,” and MK
Orly Levy-Abecassis (Likud Beytenu) pointed out that the cuts harm the working
poor, which goes against its goal to encourage employment.
meeting on child allotments alone took five hours, opposition MKs walked out in
protest before the parley on requiring housewives to pay for health insurance
was to begin, saying Slomiansky was trying to exhaust them so they would be less
“There’s a group of MKs who really care and wanted to push
off the vote so there can be a deeper discussion,” MK Merav Michaeli (Labor)
said. “It’s unfortunate that the committee chairman continued the discussion
even though he didn’t keep to the schedule” and added that the incident shows
what Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi think of public discourse and the
“Slomiansky’s behavior is degrading,” MK Miki Rosenthal (Labor)
added. “He’s exhausting the opposition in order to have a quick discussion with
no resistance. Any achievement in the Finance Ministry without opposition MKs is
pathetic, and nothing to be proud of.”
The Finance Committee chairman
responded that this is an intense time in the Knesset, and MKs must do their job
even when it requires long days.
“We must show responsibility and pass
the budget on time to avoid serious economic harm to the market,” Slomiansky
Although opposition MKs were absent from the vote, Likud Beytenu
lawmakers Gamliel, Rivlin and Levy- Abecassis all spoke out against the new
“I don’t think this proposal will pass. I personally will not vote
for it,” Gamliel said. “Many women stay home because they cannot afford to pay
for childcare, which may cost more than what they earn and is not subsidized by
the government. This is a death blow to many families.”