Lapid ups the ante in war of words with Deri

"You don’t need me to establish that he’s a liar; three courts already did so," says the finance minister.

Lapid shaking hands with Deri at Knesset 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Lapid shaking hands with Deri at Knesset 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid reiterated his claim that newly installed Shas chairman Arye Deri was a liar Thursday morning, saying in a radio interview that the justice system had already proven him right in that accusation.
Lapid was referring to Deri’s Monday night claim that he had reached an agreement with Yesh Atid not to cut the budget of haredi schools that failed to teach core curriculum subjects.
“Deri’s a liar... You don’t need me to establish that he’s a liar, three courts have already done so,” Lapid said in an interview on the Reshet Bet radio station on Thursday morning in reference to Deri’s conviction for bribery in 1999.
The proposed cuts to the haredi schools in question were removed from the budget because the attorney-general informed the Treasury that it was illegal to defund the schools without having an alternative system in place, and Education Minister Shai Piron informed Deri of this late Monday night.
Piron’s office issued a press statement that same evening, saying, “In a conversation between Education Minister Shai Piron and Shas chairman Arye Deri, it was agreed to postpone cutting the budget of the [Shas-run haredi school system] Ma’ayan Hahinuch Hatorani and the Independent Education system [of the hassidic community].”
The statement added that within six months, Piron would introduce comprehensive legislation for the mandatory teaching of core curriculum subjects, and that this would be a “historic decision.”
Shortly afterward, Deri’s office issued a statement saying that he, Lapid and Piron had come to an agreement to abandon the proposed budget cuts.
Responding to Lapid’s accusations, Deri’s office issued a statement Thursday morning pointing to the text of Piron’s Monday night comments as proof that the Shas chairman had not lied.
“Because of the errors that were made in good faith due to the lack of synchronization between Yesh Atid ministers, we present as a public service the press release which Education Minister Shai Piron issued,” Deri’s office wrote, followed by a verbatim republication of Piron’s comments.
“Mr. Lapid, was there an agreement or not?” the statement asked.
Speaking to Yediot Aharonot, Deri said that Piron had asked him to issue a statement on the cancellation of the budget cut, worded in coordination with Piron, and that when Lapid had seen the headline, “he got into a panic and published a response on Facebook without checking the facts.”
Piron and Yesh Atid are intent on having haredi schools teach core curriculum subjects as part of efforts to integrate the community into the work force. Most haredi boys’ schools teach very few hours of secular subjects, if at all.
Several provisions of the Arrangements Law, which accompanies the budget, originally specified that any school not teaching the core curriculum would face severe cuts in government funding.
Because of legal problems, however, Piron and the Treasury were forced to remove these provisions – although as Piron mentioned in his press statement, the intention is to create a state-run haredi school system as an alternative to current haredi schools so as to implement the provisions conditioning government funding on teaching the core curriculum subjects.