Moshe Gafni
Moshe Gafni Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) launched an unusually harsh attack on MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) Wednesday during a discussion of budgetary transfers. 

"We hate you," Gafni blasted, apparently in reference to religious Zionists. "You are greedy Sicarii."

The Sicarii were a group of extremist Jews that carried out assassinations shortly before the destruction of the Second Temple. Gafni's use of the term is playing on perceptions held by some haredi sects that religious Zionists are "zealots."

The discussion Wednesday came after several intense clashes between Gafni and Smotrich, and this particular tongue-lashing appears to be the peak of the tension. 

A spokesman for Gafni said afterward that "Gafni then clarified that he certainly does not hate [religious Zionist]. On the contrary, there are many religious Zionists who are invaluable. His whole life he has helped religious Zionism and will continue to do so."

Smotrich and Gafni have clashed often during Finance Committee meetings, amid accusations from Jewish Home that the UTJ MK was using his leverage as chairman to direct funding toward haredi yeshivas. 

Gafni, in return, has asserted he'd rather be "a leftist...to avoid being [connected]" to Jewish Home and has remained noticeably tough-fisted in granting money to Judea-Samaria. 

Two weeks ago, Smotrich accused Gafni of removing from the agenda a number of urgent requests regarding communities in the Gaza belt region and Judea-Samaria. 

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