Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Monday he would not be able to remain in office if the government failed to pass the 2019 state budget amid a coalition crisis after ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism threatened not to support it unless the coalition passes a Haredi-exempting amendment to the conscription law.
"Without this budget, I would have no public mandate, and I would be violating my agreement with the voter. I don’t see how I would be able to remain finance minister," Kahlon said at a Kulanu faction meeting.
He also stressed his party was "not in favor of early elections. Whoever wishes to drag us to elections is harming the public. I hope our friends in the coalition will come to their senses."
Conveying a message to Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who offered on Sunday to give him a written commitment to support the budget after the draft law is approved, Kahlon said: "I won’t talk to anyone about anything before the budget.
"The budget, which has passed its first reading, was defined as a one of the best social budgets the State of Israel has ever had. It benefitted the elderly and young couples, we reduced taxes and did a lot of other good things. This is essentially the toolbox I asked for when we joined the government. Without this budget, we won't be able to uphold our agreement with the voter," Kahlon clarified.
Defense Minister Avgidor Lieberman also had qualms with the legislation the Haredi are trying to push, saying Monday that "passing such a complicated law like the draft law in three readings within one week seems completely unreasonable to me."
"This isn't legislation but theft, and instead of a law we'll end up with a parody," he insisted.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also addressed the coalition crisis, asserting that "the 'draft dodging law' is an insult to the state, an insult to every soldier in the IDF, an insult to the Torah."
"Nowhere in the Torah does it say that you're allowed to send others to get killed for you. The 'draft-dodging' law is extortion, which is trampling on the secular, religious and traditional public, as well as the young Haredim," he charged. "The Haredi politicos are power-drunk. After increasing the budgets they receive to an all-time high, they want to turn draft dodging into a basic law."
Lapid went on to slam Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "The conductor of this fake orchestra is the prime minister," he said. "There isn't a single person in the State of Israel who thinks he really cares about the draft issue or about the budget. The only thing he cares about is the investigations, how to stop the investigations," the Yesh Atid leader accused.
"This isn't even a dispute over principles. This is a group of cynical politicians who have no problem tearing the people of Israel apart to gain a headline. These are politicians who are preoccupied with one thing: Themselves, their seat, their budgets, their corruption," he continued.
"Will there be elections? That's a question the public will have to answer. That's the issue. Will our children be raised in a country run by politicians who only care about themselves, or will they give us a mandate to form a national unity government and start the Israeli society's healing and reconciliation process?"