Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted a festive Cabinet meeting Sunday in the Western Wall Tunnels, in honor of Jerusalem Day last Friday.
During the meeting, the government approved plans to invest some two billion shekels in the city’s Arab neighborhoods, along with plans to upgrade the Western Wall Plaza and Old City infrastructure.
“The government will approve budgets for the development of the Old City and the strengthening of all of Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. We will upgrade infrastructure in the Western Wall plaza and we will improve transportation services.”
“I have specially requested that attention be given to completing the ring road (the eastern ring road and the northern American highway), this will be major news as the great transportation news that we have brought, great news in Jerusalem and not just in Jerusalem. We will expand educational activity for children, soldiers and students and we will encourage visits to the amazing Western Wall where are now meeting.”
Turning to the state budget, which must be passed by May 29th, the prime minister downplayed the ongoing coalition crisis and vowed that a spending plan would be passed by the deadline.
“We must pass the state budget. You know that I have a little experience in this matter, having passed almost 20 state budgets, and I can tell you that there are always last minute arguments. I believe that we will overcome them and pass the budget.”
Netanyahu also spoke out against recent criticism of his government’s plans for spending on the haredi sector, defending funding for haredi education and excoriating anti-haredi rhetoric as parroting antisemitic “propaganda.”
“We will pass a responsible budget one of the goals of which is to equalize conditions between a haredi child to those of a secular child. Haredi children do not need to receive less than secular or religious children because a haredi child is not half a child.”
“No Jew needs to hear the antisemitic incitement on the television channels, or see shameful caricatures in the biased media, which copy the anti-Semitic propaganda that our people has known in its darker periods. The fact is that under our government we have succeeded in integrating the haredi sector in the labor market more than all other governments – and this we will continue to do.”
Television host Galit Gutman sparked a torrent of criticism recently, when she said on Channel 12 Newsthat haredim "suck [our] blood and they milk secular society."
"How much of a burden can you put on a third of this country, in order to support in the end all of these haredim, who suck our blood? They have lost their shame," she said. "I will sit and I will say the truth - this is the reality."