"He's using the haredim as a means of distraction and a way to avoid the real questions about the enormous measures he's imposing on the public," said MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) who confronted Lapid at the plenum. "It will be because of him that Israelis take to the streets again soon enough."
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Other haredi MKs joined Gafni in accusing the new finance minister of inciting hatred against the ultra-Orthodox public in order to gain sympathy before imposing tough economic measures on the public.
Answering haredi criticism of the impending budget cuts, Lapid accused haredi officials on Monday of creating the huge deficit he inherited as finance minister.
MK Gafni at plenum. 'Lapid avoiding the real questions' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
To a heckling Gafni, Lapid responded: "We're tired of taking your orders. Israel doesn't belong to you."
"The Israeli public is far more intelligent that Lapid gives it credit and will soon take to the streets again," Gafni said in response on Monday.
"Instead of dealing with the tough questions such as why he's hurting the middle and lower classes, the finance minister is hoping to get some peace by slamming the haredim. We won't let him avoid the real question every Israeli citizen is asking himself: Why is Lapid raising taxes again? Why is he raising the VAT and hurting the weak?"
MK Litzman. 'Lapid unprofessional and petty' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
MK Yaakov Litzman said, "Israel's finance minister is unprofessional and petty. Minister Lapid would rather focus on the haredim than deal with the economy and the tough measures he's going to impose on the lower classes in his plan to starve thousands of children.
"As usual, the Facebook minister chooses to draw attention away from the real debate towards a discourse of hate and polarization."
But the most scathing response came from MK Eli Yishai (Shas) who wrote a particularly sarcastic post on his Facebook page. "Dear friends, I wish to apologize to you, as well as the rest of the Israeli people," Yishai wrote.
Yishai. 'Who do you think paid for my Mercedes?' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"I am to blame for Israel's deficit. Over the years, myself, members of my family as well as my neighbors and acquaintances and the rest of the haredi population have robbed the Israeli taxpayer. Who do you think financed my trips abroad, the five star hotels where all haredim stay, the Mercedes in the driveway? Yair Lapid, your arrogant speech has forced me to confess to it all."
The sparring match began Monday when Lapid responded to statements by MK Meir Porush who warned of the economic measures. "I understand you're going through tough times. Weren't you sitting in the government which created the deficit?" Lapid said. "Where you on Mars? You were in every government, and you were costly partners."
He went on to accuse the haredim of playing a role in the creation of the deficit, of refusing to share the burden of enlistment and failing to rake responsibility for the number of children they bring to the world.
The finance minister presented the new budget plan earlier on Monday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The plan includes an NIS 18 billion (about $5 billion) cut in government spending, with the main brunt carried by the defense establishment, the children stipends, state employees' salaries and a freeze on infrastructure projects.
In addition, the plan contains a 1% raise of the VAT and another 1% raise for incomes above NIS 8,881 ($2,449).
Avital Lahav contributed to this report
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