MKs call to transfer funds to Gaza border towns immediately

Opposition and coalition lawmakers charge that 73 days after Gaza operation began, the Finance Committee has not approved any transfers of funding to local authorities that were impacted by rockets.

A resident of the South pack belongings to return home. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A resident of the South pack belongings to return home.
The Knesset Finance Committee must discuss rehabilitating the South after Operation Protective Edge, MKs from the opposition and coalition wrote to committee chairman Nissan Slomianksy (Bayit Yehudi) Thursday.
The letter points out that, 73 days after the operation began, the committee has not approved any transfers of funds to local authorities in the South that were impacted by rocket- fire.
MK Stav Shaffir (Labor) wrote the letter calling to hold a meeting on the topic immediately, which was signed by committee coalition coordinator MK Gila Gamliel (Likud) and MKs Erel Margalit (Labor), Michal Biran (Labor), Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), Ya’acov Litzman (UTJ), and Issawi Frej (Meretz).
The lawmakers called for the government to take responsibility and enact a detailed plan to rehabilitate the towns, businesses, and residents of the South and Gaza border region.
Nearly three weeks ago, the cabinet authorized the framework for a NIS 1.3 billion aid package for the “long-term economic, social, and housing development” of Gaza border towns and Sderot. Although the full plan was prepared within a week for a final vote, the ministers have yet to approve the funds. This was because the last two weeks’ cabinet meetings were canceled while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid worked to reach a compromise on the 2015 budget.
“Security for the towns, renovating infrastructure, welfare services, increased need for mental health services, and more – all of these are left without a complete response,” Shaffir wrote. “Seventy-two days have passed since Operation Protective Edge began, and it cannot be that the needs of the South will wait for budget debates and be left without solutions.”
The letter continues: “Every delay makes rehabilitation more difficult and decreases the chance that residents of the South will be able to go back to their normal lives. The economic security of the residents and local authorities are part of the security for which we are responsible and it is our job to take care of it immediately.”
A Prime Minister’s Office spokeswoman said that, in this case, a ministerial vote would suffice, as long as it is done in person and not on the phone, and the Finance Committee’s approval is not necessary to transfer the funds.
However, she was unable to say whether or not there would be a cabinet meeting on Sunday, regardless of Netanyahu and Lapid’s ongoing budget debate.