MK Elazar Stern of left-wingHatnua was involved in a dispute Tuesday with Jewish Home MK Nisan Slomiansky, Chairman of the Knesset's Finance Committee, during a debate in the Committee on transferring funds to the Settlement Department in the Prime Minister's Office. The funds are largely earmarked for investment in projects in Judea and Samaria, for the benefit of Israelis living in the mountainous Biblical heartland
"I admit that I have no problem with the transfer of funds to Judea and Samaria for the development of roads and infrastructure. People live there," Stern said. "What I have a problem with is the fact that people are not telling me the truth."
"I have a problem with this technique, in which not everything is placed on the table," he added.
Addressing Slomiansky, Stern stated, "I know that you're an honest person, and I am halfway decent, but that doesn't make up for the fact that I know how to read texts."
In a reference to Economics Minister and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, he added, "If there are numbers like this and we have an Economics Minister who tells us that we are in the middle of a budgetary crisis – and you've already transferred 120 million shekels from Coalition funds to the project – then, tell me, what are we doing here?"
He asked: "Regarding what the minister describes as 'pocket money' – does the Coalition agreement give him funds, and then, in the course of the government's term, do people identified with certain parties or a certain party, can take care of the needs of their public from those hundreds of millions…?"
Stern accused Slomiansky of diverting more funds than agreed upon to the projects in Judea and Samaria.
Stern is a controversial figure. While wearing a kippah and a product of the religious Zionist community, his views and actions – especially his participation, as a senior IDF officer, in the expulsion of Gaza's Jews in 2005 – have made him an object of resentment in nationalist circles.
Recently, a member of his community spat in his face after he denounced a respected rabbi for alleged racism - allegations which have been strenuously denied. Following the accusations, dozens of rabbis signed a petition calling for him to stand trial for defaming the rabbi.