Monday, April 22, 2013
Yair Lapid tells ultra-Orthodox lawmakers: You don't own Israel
As his speech progressed, Lapid was constantly heckled by the apoplectic haredi MKs, to which he responded in kind.
The pointed exchange continued when Lapid reminded the haredi MKs of parental responsibilities.
"Our duty is to make sure no child goes hungry," Lapid said. "But I want to remind you of one thing: The body that's responsible for providing for children is called 'their parents.' When you bring a child to this world, MK Porush, you're the first person responsible for him."
Lapid was interrupted by MK Yisrael Eichler, who shouted: "We'll not let you take the money from the children."
Lapid answered: "MK Eichler, I heard you called for a tax rebellion. What will you threaten next, that haredim will not enlist? What are you talking about?"
To Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On, who condemned the lack of progress in the peace process, Lapid replied: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on for 150 years. I'm sorry we didn't solve it on our first week in office."
Lapid's plan: Cutting NIS 18 billion
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).
Earlier, Lapid said during his party's meeting that "We'll not hide behind the deficit but quite the opposite; we'll view it as an opportunity to change priorities for the State of Israel."
Lapid added: "Our heart goes out to anyone who can't make ends meet, but empathy can't replace policy. In two years every Israeli will feel the change, feel that he lives in a fair state which treats his money with respect."
Conversely, Opposition Leader Shelly Yachimovich commented on Yair Lapid's budget cuts: "Lapid returned with Benjamin Netanyahu's plan, including a five billion shekel ($1.3B) tax raise. It's going to be an impossible burden to carry, certainly for miserable Riki from Hadera, and definitely for the poor."