Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) criticized Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday for saying he would not make any major speeches in the Knesset for fear of being interrupted by members of the opposition, particularly the hareidi-religious parties.
"In his decision Minister Lapid shows contempt for the Knesset, disrespects his colleagues from all the Knesset factions and causes serious damage to the image of the Knesset and its members,” said Edelstein.
“An elected representative is sent by voters to the Knesset, which is his place of work, and therefore should make his statements to the nation from there,” added the Knesset Speaker. “Those who decide to carry their main speeches outside the Knesset will have to pass their laws outside the Knesset as well. In my opinion, it is exactly during these days when the state budget is being prepared, that Israel's Finance Minister should hold a dialogue, even if it is a difficult one, with representatives of the people who may be affected by the budget.”
Minister Lapid wrote to his supporters on Friday that he chose to make his first comprehensive speech as Finance Minister at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies instead of at the Knesset, because he feared disruptions and heckling by the hareidi Knesset members.
Lapid said that he would have preferred to address the plenum, as this would be more democratic, but then the hareidi Knesset members would not have let him finish even one sentence.
Lapid’s speech at the conference was made a day after he made a speech from the Knesset podium, in which he argued that hareidi MKs had played a part in running up the deficit, and lashed out at them saying, “The state is sick of taking orders from you… You aren’t registered as the rightful owners of the government.”
Responding on Tuesday to Lapid’s speech, MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) told Arutz Sheva, “Lapid came up with a media spin that unfortunately worked for him.”
“Lapid was in Knesset [Monday] to talk for the first time about the financial cuts and cuts to social welfare that his ministry is going to impose on the citizens of Israel. He understood that both the Knesset and the media are very critical of him, so he decided to attack me and the hareidi community, and instead of talking about budget cuts he talked about hareidi Jews,” he continued.
“I had a personal conversation with Lapid,” Gafni revealed. “I told him that we will not allow him to dodge the problems posed by the budget cuts.”
“Lapid committed to a different kind of politics and a different economic approach,” he added. “We will hold the discussion and will not let Lapid make it personal.”