Yair Lapid in Knesset
Yair Lapid in KnessetIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Knesset’s summer session got off to a stormy start Monday with an afternoon session that saw Finance Minister Yair Lapid clash with representatives from the hareidi-religious Yahadut Hatorah (Gimmel) party.

MK Meir Porush of Yahadut Hatorah criticized Lapid, accusing him of hating the hareidi community. Porush also took Lapid to task for his fiscal policy, saying, “I heard that he’s going to impose harsh economic decrees on the state of Israel. This man lives life based on what he’ll look like tomorrow.”

Lapid lashed back in his own speech to Knesset later in the session. “The previous government that created this deficit – were you not in it?” he asked the hareidi representatives. “Were you on Mars?”

“You sat in every government for the past 30 years, and this deficit has your names on it. I need to deal with the deficit that you created, you were not cheap coalition partners,” he said.

“You talk about hatred of hareidim,” he continued. “Nobody hates you, and you keep arguing that they hate you… The only thing that happened is that you aren’t in the coalition, and that’s called democracy… The state is sick of taking orders from you, and now you aren’t on the Finance Committee.”

“You need to understand that we don’t hate you,” he added. “But you aren’t registered as the rightful owners of the government.”

Lapid also took heat from the left-wing Meretz and Labor parties. MK Zahava Gal-On of Meretz said, “Instead of talking about meaningful reform, [Lapid] is ignoring the greatest danger facing the economy: the growing inequality.

“Deciding to increase the VAT is an easy step at the expense of the struggling classes and the middle class that will kill what remains of the welfare state,” she accused.

Representatives from Arab factions took their turn at the podium and accused the government of failing to pursue an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Lapid responded to their charges, saying that the government is working to promote a diplomatic solution and will continue to do so.