Deri spoke at the Knesset plenum devoted to the discussion of Finance Minister Yair Lapid's biannual budget, and the austerity measures it entails.
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Opposition parties Labor, Balad, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Kadima and Meretz submitted no confidence motions against what they described as a government that "cripples the weakened demographics and the middle class." The proposals were all rejected.
The first up to speak was MK Eitan Cabel (Labor), who dismissed Lapid as merely "an extension of Netanyahu," and said that if Labor were conducting state affairs, it would have done a better job than the "Bibi/Yair duo. "The Treasury insists that everyone would pay the same tax, but I must insist there be no VAT taxation on the basic products as this would spell a death blow to the poor," he warned.
He said regarding the budget deficit that "this sham has a face and a name and we must not conceal it any longer. It is called Benjamin Netanyahu. And he is leading us into this economic abyss through his outrageous and irresponsible conduct." The MK added that Netanyahu's economic theory has turned against the people it was meant to serve.
Lapid's deputy Mickey Levy tried to defend the budget, saying the government did its best to avoid cuts that would hurt the majority of the public: "We cut everywhere before we took from the middle class."
He argued that if the State were not facing security threats, the budget would have been different. He also said the budget deficit makes him "wake up in a cold sweat," adding: "There is room for concern."
Promising to find a solution to the housing crisis, he said that "No one promised a miracle within the first two months of the finance minister's tenure. Can the largest deficit we have ever known just miraculously disappear? All the ills of the economy be solved at once?"
Speaking of proposed cuts to child support, Deri said "Perhaps the benefits are pocket money for many families in the upper echelons and they do not even know how much they are getting, but for most of Israelis, child support is part of their monthly salary."
Deri speaking at the Knesset plenum (photo: Gil Yohanan)
He also warned against government decisions that "in one fell swoop add 50,000 children into poverty, and deteriorate some 800,000 children, who are already below that line, even further." He added that for members of the government a 1% increase in VAT tax is not significant but to families where both parents are earning below minimum wage and have a number of children, this represents a harsh blow.
In addition, Deri called to impose a differential tax: "Everyone is shouting about it, could someone explain why this is not done?"
On Saturday some 12,000 people rallied in Tel Aviv against the expected austerity measures.
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