Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) approaches Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, November 24, 2015.

The United Torah Judaism party is angry at the fact that the finances of the Haredi yeshivas are in a shambles, claiming that this is because the day-to-day budgets for said yeshivas have not been paid in recent months. The reason for the delays has to do with the absence of an approved state budget for 2020 under the new government, and so transfers of funds cannot be generated by the Knesset Finance Committee – chaired by UTJ’s MK Moshe Gafni.

Until the establishment of a new government, under Netanyahu’s caretaker government, the funds were paid out based on the previous year’s budget, one twelfth of the budget each month. However, once a legitimate government (also headed by Netanyahu) has been established, it must first submit a state budget for the Knesset’s approval and only then start paying the beneficiaries.

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Alas, instead of moving ahead with laying out a new budget, Netanyahu and his major coalition partners at Blue&White have been fighting over whether this should be a single-year or two-year budget. The Likud argues that the experts at the Finance Ministry prefer a one-year budget which would allow them more flexibility in adjusting the 2021 budget. Gantz, on the other hand, believes that the real reason Netanyahu would like the shorter budget is that he, Netanyahu, does not intend to honor his commitment to a multi-year coalition whereby Gantz gets to be prime minister in 17 months, give or take a couple days.

Meanwhile, non-essential spending appears to have been suspended. According to Reshet Bet radio, a few days ago there was a “difficult” conversation between Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni and the Prime Minister. Gafni demanded that Netanyahu resolve the Haredi yeshivas’ funding issue as soon as possible, but he did not receive satisfying answers, as far as he was concerned, and so far there is no solution.

And so, when the prime minister’s people came to Gafni a few days ago and asked him to pass through his committee an approval to granting fuel benefits to international organizations, Gafni angrily replied: “I’m not your marionette.”

Incidentally, MK Gafni is supporting a one-year budget, in light of the coronavirus crisis. He said that “the State of Israel is in an economic situation in which we cannot predict what will happen in 2021,” and added, “We have been going for months without a budget.”

Gafni made it clear that “a large part of the social issues depends on there being a state budget, so my opinion is that a one-year budget should be prepared and approved by the Finance Committee as soon as possible.”

Now you know why.

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