Barbs Fly Between Haredi and Religious Zionist MK

'I'd rather be a leftist than tied to Jewish Home,' a bitter Moshe Gafni tells Bezalel Smotrich at Finance Committee meeting.

Hezki Baruch ,

Moshe Gafni
Moshe Gafni
Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash 90

A debate in the Knesset's Finance Committee turned nasty on Wednesday when chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) began to attack MK Bezalel Smotrich and his Jewish Home party. 

During a hearing over providing tax benefits to small communities (yishuvim) across Israel, Gafni said it proved difficult to include Judea-Samaria communities on the list due to "unclear criteria."

Smotrich rushed into the conversation, asking: "What's not clear? There is a government decision from 2013 to introduce Judea-Samaria communities into the list."

Gafni responded that he wouldn't enter into a conversation on legalities, whereupon MK Orly Levy-Abekasis (Yisrael Beytenu) remarked "soon Smotrich will tell you you're a leftist."

"I'm a known leftist. To avoid being [connected] to them (Jewish Home) - I prefer to be a leftist," Gafni charged back. 

Smotrich told Gafni, "no one intentionally claims to be evil," prompting Gafni to respond: "I am part of Degel HaTorah, and if it weren't for us, you wouldn't be in power. And you 'thanked us' last term [by teaming up with Yair Lapid]. It's better you shut up."

Gafni refers to the alliance forged by Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett after January 2013 elections to keep haredi parties out of the government. 

"There is no possibility whatsoever of including Judea and Samaria on the list of eligible communities," Gafni insisted. "By the way, in Judea and Samaria I have more supporters than you. We have Modi'in Illit, Beitar and more. There is no way to include Judea and Samaria, period. There's no money.'

The Finance Committee chair continued to attack the Jewish Home party, suggesting they "take back from your yeshivas which took more than everyone, and by the way, why didn't you put Judea-Samaria on this list when you had a pact with Lapid?"