ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Lapid: Smotrich ‘harming war effort’ for reportedly still prioritizing funding for West Bank, Haredi schools

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Illustrative: Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 26, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Illustrative: Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 26, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid reacts angrily to reports that the Finance Ministry will continue to fund political priorities in the West Bank and for ultra-Orthodox schools, despite a government resolution to reallocate coalition discretionary funds to the war effort.

“While IDF soldiers are risking their lives, Finance Minister [Bezalel] Smotrich is harming the war effort, harming national resilience, harming Israeli society,” Lapid writes on X.

Smotrich, a far-right former settler activist, “is not interested in anything except his ‘base,'” Lapid says, and is using “Israeli citizens’ money to practice petty politics during wartime.”

The Kan public broadcaster reported Saturday that Smotrich decided to transfer hundreds of millions of shekels to priorities in the West Bank and to ultra-Orthodox school networks, against advice from the treasury’s professional staff. The latter answers Haredi political demands.

A Finance Ministry official told the Knesset’s Finance Committee last week that the treasury has enough funds to support the war effort. Smotrich has repeatedly promised to reopen the budget in order to redistribute funds in line with war priorities.

On Friday, Smotrich said that he froze 70% of non-transferred 2023 coalition funds, some NIS 1.6 billion, to be redistributed to the war effort.

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