A religious storm has broken out in Herzliya's city council over the municipality's planned 2008 budget, reports local.co.il. Religious parties voted against the NIS 660.5 million budget last week because it provides increased funding for the city's Cinematheque and other businesses that operate on Shabbat, but mayor Yael German termed the religious demands "hypocrisy" and "extortion." According to the report, before the council meeting that voted on the budget, the two religious factions sent a letter to German outlining their opposition to the clauses allocating funds for the Cinematheque. The religious groups asked German either to split the budget to allow them to express their opposition to this "damage to Shabbat," or to remove the portion entirely from the budget. But at the stormy council meeting, German refused to remove the offending clauses, describing the demands as "extortion" and saying she felt as if she was "standing opposite a loaded gun." "I will continue to take care of the religious population but its representatives do not represent the entire population," German said. "In the past four years, you [the religious parties] have voted for budgets with similar clauses on arts and cultural activities that operate on Shabbat. This is hypocrisy; it is an ugly attempt to take advantage of a situation in which certain factions are not part of the coalition. Herzliya does not need to be held hostage to you." A shouting match ensued between German and some of the religious councilors. Several demonstrators also appeared at the meeting carrying signs saying: "Yes to the budget, no to religious coercion." Eventually, the issue came to a vote, with 10 councilors voting for the budget and eight against. At NIS 660.5 million, the 2008 budget is NIS 38 million - or 5.7 percent - bigger than this year's budget.