The coalition and opposition heads traded strong accusations over the government's proposed state budget which the opposition sought to challenge at the Knesset plenum.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who appeared at the plenum after the opposition collected 40 signatures from lawmakers seeking his comment, derided the opposing side of parliament for insinuating that the budget proposal could harm weaker groups in society.
"When I saw the topic of discussion, I could not help but chuckle. There really is no limit to your lack of self-awareness. The budget was taken hostage," Bennett said. "You did not pass a budget for three and a half years — that's the truth. Our plan will make it easier for businesses and will bring down prices."
Likud MKs May Golan and David Amsalem were ejected from the plenum for heckling, with the latter calling Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy a "bully."
"Since the current government is free from the same coalition strings and interests that bound you, it managed to pass in first reading the most social budget that has been here for years," Bennett continued. "We are passing a budget; it is something that has not happened in the State of Israel since March of 2018."
The premier also noted Israel's receding fourth coronavirus infection wave, spurred by the highly transmissible Delta variant, hailing his government for reining in the outbreak without going into lockdown.
Opposition leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu then took the stage and opened his attack on his successor Bennett with a story from his childhood.
"I grew up in Jerusalem. We had a house with a very long living room and when I was three years old, I used to line up all the chairs across the living room, sit on the front chair and yell 'I'm a pilot,'" he said. "Now, when a three-year-old does this, it's cute. But when Bennett sits on the prime minister's chair and says 'I'm the pilot, I'm navigating' when in practice he does not call any shots — that's not cute, it's pathetic. And I'm telling you, it's even dangerous."
The former prime minister went on to slam his former protégé for his handling of the pandemic.
"1,500 people have lost their lives while Bennett is busy playing prime minister. We dealt with the pandemic without vaccines. You neglected to treat the pandemic when there were vaccines. You have no excuses and no explanations. Instead of apologizing, you boast about not closing the country. Everybody understands that it's all pretend. Bennett has no authority, he is prime minister in title only."