UTJ MK Gafni: Lapid is a megalomaniac

Shas MK Deri slams finance minister's planned budget cuts, saying cuts will make hundreds of thousands more Israelis poor.

MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Senior United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni called Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid a megalomaniac and accused him of parroting information passed on by Finance Ministry officials.
Gafni’s fierce attack against the Yesh Atid chairman comes after Lapid, in a video published on his Facebook page on Monday just before Passover, compared the path he has taken his party on to that which Moses took in the biblical account of the exodus from Egypt.
“Lapid is a megalomaniac, he doesn’t have any experience, he hasn’t even been an MK, and he recites what clerks in the Finance Ministry tell him,” Gafni said Thursday morning on Army Radio.
The UTJ MK was chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee during the last Knesset.
“He compares himself to Moses our teacher, [but] he needs first to be a slave to know [the meaning] of the public service that has been placed upon him [but] at the moment he’s just sending out notices on Facebook,” Gafni continued.
In his YouTube video, Lapid said that Moses had always “done the right thing” even though it was not popular and people had argued with him.
“He looked to the future and said ‘what does it need to look like and where do we need to lead it to?’ and this is what Yesh Atid has always done,” Lapid said. “It will be a long path and an unpopular path and I’ll take the hard decisions because that is what you sent me to do.”
Earlier this week, Lapid said that the country’s financial situation was worse than he had known and that budget cuts would need to be made in “painful areas.”
He said that the increasing size of the budget deficit had been caused “because instead of managing the economy in a responsible manner, they [the previous government] took huge loans and had a party,” Lapid wrote to Yesh Atid supporters on Sunday. “I won’t repeat these mistakes.”
In his interview on Thursday, Gafni said that the excuses Lapid has been making for the proposed budget cuts were the same policies which the Finance Ministry had been suggesting during the last Knesset term and which Gafni and others in the government had resisted.
“We refused to accept them. He doesn’t need to eat everything they’re feeding him, there are other solutions,” the haredi MK said.
He added that Lapid should have paid attention to financial problems during the election campaign instead of focusing on the haredi community.
The haredi parties, and Shas in particular, emphasized during the election period that they would oppose any budget cuts and tax hikes that would affect the poorer sectors of Israeli society.
Gafni also accused the Israeli media of giving Lapid an easy time over proposed budget cuts because of his supposed intention to cut budgets from yeshivot.
During the election campaign and coalition negotiations, Yesh Atid focused heavily on reforming the state benefits available to full-time yeshiva students and the haredi community, as well as increasing haredi enlistment in national service programs.
The agreement between Likud and Yesh Atid included clauses that will make many state welfare benefits dependent on being employed, or actively seeking employment.
This will make full-time yeshiva study financially problematic for many haredi families.
Shas leader Arye Deri also had harsh words for Lapid on Thursday regarding the government’s plans to implement deep budget cuts.
“The decrees which the government wants will take hundreds of thousands more Israelis into poverty,” Deri said in an interview with haredi website Kikar Hashabbat.
Deri was the architect of Shas’s election strategy, which focused heavily on the party’s opposition to cuts in the welfare budget. Deri and the two other Shas leaders, Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias, frequently pointed out during the campaign that elections were called because Shas refused to agree to a budget that would have implemented such cuts.
Deri said that in the opposition, the party would work towards mitigating, as much as possible, the effect of budget cuts on the poor.