לימור לבנת יאיר נתניהו
Limor Livnat
Photo: Yariv Katz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Ultra-Orthodox are all that remains of Netanyahu's bloc

Opinion: Netanyahu indulges the Haredi parties, granting them privileges no other citizen of Israel gets - even if it means deepening already monumental national debt or putting entire country in harm's way by admitting 16,000 Americans

Limor Livnat |
Published: 07.31.20 , 14:08
All that is left of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bloc – the same bloc whose members he had sign declarations of allegiance, pledges and other various and strange spells – are the Ultra-Orthodox.
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  • Netanyahu decided to leave out the right-wing Yamina and abandon all the promises he made to the party and its members, because Netanyahu only keeps agreements that are in his favor or in accordance with his will.
    בנימין נתניהו ובני גנץבנימין נתניהו ובני גנץ
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Tal Shahar)
    The latest proof of this is his unreasonable insistence on only approving an annual budget and not a biennial budget - as he agreed with Blue & White just two months ago.
    This insistence is contrary to his long-standing position of advocating a biennial budget and contrary to common sense. If an annual budget is approved, it will only be in effect until the end of the year anyway - four months.
    For many years the ultra-Orthodox parties have flexed their coalition muscle, especially in narrow right-wing coalitions.
    But lo and behold, it turns out that even in a government in which of Blue & White are members, Netanyahu and his finance minister Israel Katz are still bending to the whims of the ultra-Orthodox at the expense of the economy and health of the general public.
    נפתלי בנט ובנימין נתניהונפתלי בנט ובנימין נתניהו
    Netanyahu with Yamina leader and former ally Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Truth be told, it is not only the finance minister who's a part of this. Several other ministers have also united in happy cooperation with the ultra-Orthodox since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
    Do you remember the flights that brought thousands of ultra-Orthodox to Israel, mostly from the pandemic-stricken United States, without them being forced to go into quarantine upon arrival? Of course, you remember.
    Yet, it seems there are those who have forgotten. As it turns out, we are about to welcome 16,000 young ultra-orthodox students who do not have Israeli citizenship, so they can be here for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Jerusalem Day and Aliyah Day.
    Due to their fervent desire to mark these days by the side of their spiritual leaders here in Israel, these students can arrive and remain here under favorable conditions afforded to no one else.
    ישיבת סיעות בלוק הימיןישיבת סיעות בלוק הימין
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Aryeh Deri
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein decided to allow them "to isolate in capsules of up to six" upon their arrival in Israel.
    These terms are not even given to citizens of the state who return after spending time abroad. No, they must stay in complete isolation. Alone. Not in capsules, not in pairs, and certainly not in groups of six people together.
    Only these non-Israeli privileged few are granted this. Why?
    The state is being very careful in denying entry to those who are not entitled to it. Then why do we need 16,000 foreigners coming in?
    But they are Jews, some would say. Okay, let them in then but do not give them the privileges nobody else gets.
    The prime minister's plan to give a one-off stipend to all Israelis has been subjected to changes from the moment it was announced. It went from a plan to distribute money to everyone without distinction to a sensible and fairer program that took into account people's needs.
    But then the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, threatened to ensure that the plan would not be approved if no extra money was found for families with more than three children, as was originally planned.
    משה גפנימשה גפני
    United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    Suddenly, the funding was found in the already dwindling state budget, giving more to those who have a fourth and fifth and sixth child.
    I applaud Gafni's success in leveraging such a move by deploying his political power, but where will it leave us?
    Perhaps it is time to ask new "coronavirus czar" Prof. Ronni Gamzu to ban the entrance of 16,000 tourists - for the cost of that could be far higher than any budgetary shenanigans.
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