Anger in Labor over Braverman’s boycotting of budget vote

Braverman says he was protesting the inclusion of stipends for haredi kollel students and that his conscience did let him support the bill.

311_Avishai Braverman (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Avishai Braverman
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Labor ministers expressed frustration with Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman on Tuesday for boycotting the Knesset’s vote on the 2011- 2012 state budget that occurred at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Braverman released a statement at 9 p.m. Monday night that he was boycotting the vote to protest the inclusion of stipends for haredi kollel students.
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Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, who chairs the Labor faction, tried unsuccessfully to persuade Braverman to remain at the Knesset and vote. He told him that the only way to oppose the budget was to vote against it.
When Braverman refused, Simhon paired him off with MK Michael Ben-Ari from the opposition National Union party, so Braverman’s absence would be officially excused and not a boycott. A coalition member and an opposition member can be paired together to cancel each other's vote out. This angered Braverman when he found out about it in the morning.
“I boycotted the vote, despite the heavy pressure on me, because my conscience did not let me support this budget,” Braverman said.
Labor ministers accused Braverman of cowardice. They said the only reason he did not vote against the budget was because of a rule in Labor institutions that voting against the party on key issues prevents MKs from running on the party’s slate in the next election.
“He can’t have his cake and eat it too,” a source close to Labor chairman Ehud Barak said. “If he doesn’t like being in the government, no one is holding a gun to his head.
“But if he wants to be a minister, there are annoying obligations that come with it, like staying at the Knesset and voting late at night like the rest of the ministers.”