Minister of Economics and Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett, head of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party has been the center of controversy in recent weeks, with some praising his success in passing new policies while others criticize him over planned cuts to the yeshiva budget and his party’s seeming inaction in the face of a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Bennett spoke of his feelings regarding the government’s first 100 days in power.
“We’ve passed the reform to the cement industry that people tried to push forward for 50 years, but they were afraid to break the monopoly. We’ve opened the skies, we’ve opened religious services… This is a good government overall,” he declared.
“It’s true that there is less building [in Judea and Samaria (Shomron)]. There is construction in Efrat, in Ariel and in other regions, but on the other hand there are no new building tenders.
“We will not put up with this situation for long. We are working on it…. Some work is done quietly. Overall, I’m very happy with our achievements in a short time,” he said.
Bennett brought the focus back to the economy. “What bothers me each day is that there are people here living off of 6,600 shekels a month and less. It’s unacceptable, it’s anti-Zionist. How can it be that you have a normal couple, with both working, and they’re suffocating?” he asked.
“An after-school activity and a computer for a child is not a luxury,” he added.
Returning to the subject of Judea and Samaria, he said, “When I was the director-general of the Yesha Council I only had Judea and Samaria to worry about. I don’t have that privilege anymore. We can’t think only about that.”
“On the other hand,” he added, “we’re the ones who must think about it, because nobody else will.”
Regarding cuts to the yeshiva budget, Bennett said that the budget cuts would not be nearly as drastic as was initially thought. “The cuts will be like those elsewhere, two to three percent of the budget, no more,” he said.