With the Haredi draft crisis threatening to dismantle the Netanyahu coalition government, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Tuesday upped the ante when he told a press conference, “The people of Israel will sit at the Seder table either with a budget or without a finance minister.”
The United Torah Judaism coalition partner is insisting that as long as the coalition does not produce a bill that protects Yeshiva students from the draft, the Haredim in the Knesset would not show up for the vote on the government’s budget for 2019.
The minister explained: “I will not be able to function and continue to serve as finance minister if the budget does not pass at the end of the [winter] session. There is no logic in linking the draft to the state budget. In order to provide a solution for populations that have been neglected for years, we have been forced to withdraw funds from the 2019 budget year for afternoon care facilities and for negative income tax payments.”
Negative Income Tax (NIT) is a progressive income tax system where people earning below a certain amount receive supplemental pay from the government instead of paying taxes to the government.
“Not transferring these funds would harm large populations, who are not interested in the draft bill,” Kahlon said, and added a threat: “If by the end of the session the budget does not pass, I personally am calling on all my friends to get up and leave.”
In response to this, UTJ Chairman Moshe Gafni said during a Knesset Finance Committee discussion: “Then there will be a Seder night without a finance minister,” and sent his own threatening message to Kahlon: “If you set a meeting on Sunday to approve the [budget] law – there will be no budget.”
Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, was entrenched in his demand Monday not to surrender to the Haredi draft law.
“We are not against the Haredim or against anyone,” Liberman explained, instead, “we are in favor of security for Israel, in favor of the IDF and of equal rights and obligations for all.”
Liberman also objected to the Haredi coalition members demand that their bill pass through the three required plenum readings, committee review and the amendment process before the end of the winter session in order for there to be a budget vote.
“To pass such a complex and charged law as the draft law, which has far-reaching security and social implications, in three readings within one week,” Liberman said, “is not legislation, but theft.”