The final session of the Knesset Finance Committee of the 19th Knesset was held on Monday 16 Kislev hours before the plenum voted to dissolve the coalition. It was a stormy session, one in which Chairman MK (Bayit Yehudi) ousted MK (Labor) Stav Shafir no less than seven times. She and Yesh Atid MK Ofir Shelach opposed the planned approval of over major funding for yishuvim, calling the major budgetary allocation at this time “election bribery”. Despite her ongoing shouts, which led to her being ousted repeatedly, Chairman Slomiansky remained determined to get the funding pushed through before the Knesset was official dissolved, realizing it would be too late. 211 million shekels were approved for yishuvim and an additional 3.77 million shekels allocated for security infrastructure in those communities. The prime minister was certain to have the required people present for the meeting to pass those sums.
The funds to be allocated were from 2013 and 2014 state budget surpluses.
The firing of Yair Lapid as finance minister made the allocations possible. Tens of millions were approved for yishuvim but a second portion of the funding, which was to reach yishuvim indirectly via the World Zionist Organization, was not approved despite pleas from Slomiansky to Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen refused to change his position to support the bill. He refused to vote. This left the dati leumi tzibur with a bad taste for chareidim as he blocked the last possibility for that funding to yishuvim. Cohen’s refusal blocked 95 million shekels in additional funding for yishuvim in addition to 70 million shekels for the WZO Settlement Division. His actions led to anti-chareidi headlines on dati leumi news websites.
MK (Likud) Danny Danon, who is challenging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the party leadership position, insists the passing of funds to Yehuda and Shomron was justified as Lapid had no right to freeze the allocations in the first place.
When asked to comment, a treasury official explained the surplus from the budgets was frozen because it planned to use that money to cover the costs of Operation Protective Edge this past summer.
After the majority of the funding was allocated, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein joined in among the critics who felt the committee exceeded its moral mandate during a transition period.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)