Finance Committee debate on funding for South vs. settlements heats up

NIS 310 million transferred to help Holocaust survivors.

Wide view of the Knesset (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Wide view of the Knesset
A vote on budgetary transfers on Monday deteriorated into a shouting match over funding for the Har Hebron Regional Council, with Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) removing MK Stav Shaffir (Labor) from the meeting.
Last week, MKs voted to send advances compensation for damages from Operation Protective Edge to local authorities.
Opposition MKs, including Shaffir, who has fought bitterly against every transfer of funds to settlements, complained at the time that Har Hebron Regional Council received NIS 2 million, more funds than some of the hardest-hit areas in the South, and demanded explanations.
On Monday, Slomiansky showed the MKs a chart detailing the funding, saying they were mistaken.
The Har Hebron Regional Council, which is under the 40 km. from Gaza cutoff for aid, received NIS 471,000, whereas the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council received NIS 2.36m., Sha’ar Hanegev received NIS 1.24m., and Sderot received NIS 4.24m., among others.
Towns in the South that received less than Har Hebron are further from Gaza or in a higher socioeconomic bracket, with the exception of Tel Sheva, which is in the same distance and socioeconomic bracket and received NIS 404,000.
“You are hiding information,” Shaffir accused Slomiansky.
“You are motivated by the extreme Left,” he responded. “Either you don’t understand the information or you want to confuse the facts and are lying. The numbers show Har Hebron received much less than most of the towns in the South.”
Slomiansky said the chart clearly shows that Har Hebron received less than other towns in the South.
“All of these accusations that I give preferential treatment to settlements over the South are nonsense. Shaffir is constantly trying to take over discussions and doesn’t let anyone else talk,” he said, before removing Shaffir from the meeting.
Slomiansky and Shaffir have a history of vocal debates, with the former removing the latter from several meetings.
Shaffir also petitioned the High Court against the way Slomiansky conducts meetings, claiming information about budgetary transfers is not sufficiently transparent.
Also Monday, the Finance Committee voted to transfer NIS 310m. to help Holocaust survivors, by funding annual grants of NIS 3,600 to 80,000 survivors, in addition to a NIS 2,200 they already received.
In addition, NIS 500m. were transferred to Israel Military Industries as part of a package to help 1,200 workers retire early. The full cost of decreasing the number of IMI workers as part of its privatization plan is NIS 1.5 billion.
Slomiansky refused to bring NIS 20m.
for scholarships for Arab students to a re-vote, despite a petition by MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu), because the opposition had a majority in the committee.
As such, the transfer of the funds was delayed, to the chagrin of opposition MKs.
Miller demanded in the name of his faction that the scholarships only be given to students who served in the IDF or did civilian service.