Finance Minister Yair Lapid was sharply criticized by the opposition on Tuesday over planned measures to balance the budget, particularly a planned hike in tuition fees at higher education institutions.
The accusations were leveled at Lapid during a special recess session of the Knesset on the measures. The Finance Minister, however, did not bother to attend the session, choosing instead to send Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy, a member of his Yesh Atid party, to respond to the Knesset members who spoke on the topic.
While Lapid did not attend the Knesset session, he was able to find time to post a message to his Facebook page while the session was going on, in which he claimed that a reported plan by the Treasury to significantly increase tuition fees at institutes of higher education was nothing more than a political spin.
Lapid’s action further angered the Knesset members who were in attendance. Opposition chairwoman MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor) got up and said, "We just set a new record - as we sit here, the Finance Minister posts a status on Facebook rather than coming here and answering questions. He had time to sit and post on Facebook instead of coming to the Knesset to respond in a respective manner. I, too, have a Facebook page, and I use it, but it is not a replacement for the Knesset,” she added, before storming out of the plenum.
MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) also slammed Lapid for failing to show up at the Knesset.
Turning directly to Deputy Minister Levy, Gafni charged, “All the talk about a new agenda was nothing but fairy tales. Enough slogans. The Finance Minister discovered that the numbers are more powerful than Facebook, so he writes on Facebook and sends you to the battle front. He is hiding. He’s a coward. Where’s the money, Mr. Yair Lapid? Let him come here and give answers. Not send you to the front.”
Gafni also attacked Lapid for posting his message, which described the Israeli middle class as ‘Riki Cohen’ from Hadera, during the Passover holiday.
"Tell your boss,” Gafni told Levy, “that this is a Jewish state and messages should not be posted to Facebook on Shabbat or a holiday.”