ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Lapid: 2024 budget update shows government prioritizes religion over health, education

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting of his Yesh Atid party at the Knesset on February 5, 2024 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting of his Yesh Atid party at the Knesset on February 5, 2024 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Zionist dream of creating a Jewish and democratic state has failed, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid declares ahead of a preliminary vote on the government’s amended 2024 budget in the Knesset plenum.

“What is a budget? A budget is a question that the state asks itself: ‘What do I need, and what can I afford?’ A budget deals with national priorities — what is more important to the government, what is less important to it,” Lapid says at a conference sponsored by financial daily The Marker.

“We’ve gotten an answer: In this budget there is an all-time record in payments to yeshiva students who do not enlist” in the IDF as well as “close to NIS 700 million ($192 million)” for Settlements Minister Orit Strock’s “unnecessary ministry for matters of illegal outposts.”

The Ministry of Religious Services has been exempted from the budget cuts being applies to ministries across the board, sending a message to the public that “religious services are more important than health services, more important than the poor and more important than the education of our children,” he says.

“This of course expresses something deeper about their priorities. This government, from its first day, had been telling us: The experiment called ‘a Jewish and democratic state’ has failed. These two concepts contradict each other,” he says, adding that the government is aiming toward “a Jewish and non-democratic state.”

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