Ben-Simon to be punished for budget vote

Rebel coalition MK responds "Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn" after reported consequences for voting against biennial state budget.

Ben-Simon (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
The heads of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition intend to meet on Monday in order to decide how to punish the only coalition MK who voted against the 2011-2012 biennial state budget on Wednesday night, Labor rebel Danny Ben- Simon.
The budget passed by a wide margin of 63-33. Even National Union MKs Ya’acov Katz and Uri Ariel, who are in the opposition, voted for the budget.
Knesset passes budget after marathon session
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin called Ben-Simon’s vote “very serious” and said either the coalition or the Labor faction could reprimand him. Possible punishments include not advancing the bills he has submitted, preventing him from speaking in the Knesset plenum, and stopping him issuing parliamentary enquiries.
Ben-Simon said he voted against the budget because of the damage he believes it will do to the poorest sectors of the population, and to protest the failure of the government and his party to advance the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

He said he did not care what steps would be taken against him after Elkin refused to give him the chairmanship of the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee, which he was supposed to inherit last month. Elkin gave the committee to Likud MK Danny Danon instead because of Ben-Simon refusal to sign an oath of loyalty to the coalition.
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” Ben-Simon said when told about his looming punishment, echoing Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler character in Gone with the Wind.
“They stole my committee. They have taken everything from me. What else can they take from me? My soul? What the hell can they still do? “I have my principles and I will live by them. And if it costs me anything, I am ready to pay the price,” Ben Simon declared.