Lapid Campaigns 'At Expense of Judea and Samaria'

MKs charge Lapid with demonizing region's residents as he did hareidim last elections, transfer of millions to radical Islamic councils.

Hezki Baruch, Ari Yashar , | updated: 16:01

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Flash 90

As campaigning kicks off following the official Knesset vote Monday to disband ahead of elections set for March 17, Coalition Coordinator in the Finance Committee MK Gila Gamliel (Likud) on Tuesday attacked outgoing Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) on charges of playing politics with state finances.

After Lapid was fired last Tuesday his months-long freeze on fund transfers to Judea and Samaria regional councils was broken this Monday, in a move providing sorely needed funds for Israeli citizens which he termed "election bribery."

"The former finance minister decided to hold his party's elections campaign at the expense of Judea and Samaria residents, just like he did to the hareidi public in the previous elections campaign," Gamliel fired in response, noting on the push to force hareidi IDF enlistment headed by Lapid's Yesh Atid and Jewish Home.

Jewish residents of Israel's Biblical heartland are citizens just as much as residents of the Galilee and Negev are, Gamliel reminded, noting "the budgets transferred by the Finance Committee are part of the budgets the committee transfers continuously."

"The more unbelievable thing is that the one who prepared the transfers which the Finance Committee authorized is none other than former Finance Minister MK Yair Lapid," revealed Gamliel. "How is it that a week since being fired the former minister changed his position?"

Money to Islamic extremists, not to Jews?

MK Yariv Levin (Likud) also on Tuesday criticized Lapid for his attacks on the Judea and Samaria communities, saying "Yair Lapid is breaking new records of hypocrisy."

"The old and ugly politics of Lapid is raising its head again," charged Levin. "He apparently forgot that in the short time that he served as finance minister he chose to transfer many millions to Arab regional councils ruled by the Islamic Movement in Israel."

Lapid's freeze on budget transfers to Judea and Samaria in October was reportedly lifted this week by outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud).

Ya'alon reportedly told officials "our goal should be the immediate release of funds for the development of settlements in Judea and Samaria, and I am working to do this. These funds former Finance Minister Yair Lapid held for political reasons, and now they [the Knesset - ed.] have to release these funds."

The report, if true, would show a sharp reversal in Ya'alon's policies thus far. The Defense Minister has been personally behind the continuation of a military seizure of the Yitzhar Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva [Torah academy - ed.], and froze funds for a project to build new housing for IDF soldiers over 1949 Armistice lines just last week. 

For Lapid, the recent freeze that was lifted is far from his first. In February the Yesh Atid party head took similar measures, and did the same two months later - when roughly 563 million shekels ($162,173,276) earmarked for the Housing Ministry were cut until further notice.