The 1.3-billion-shekel emergency aid package promised to Gaza border towns immediately after Operation Protective Edge two weeks ago remains on hold while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid try to settle their differences over the state budget.
Ministers have already approved a budgetary framework for a five-year plan to promote industry, agriculture, construction and welfare in towns near the Gaza border that took the brunt of the recent fighting. But the government can’t act on it until the overall budget is worked out.
“Residents of Gaza border towns became hostages in the ego battles between Netanyahu and Lapid,” a Labor party spokesman charged. “The government’s treatment of the South is hypocritical and irresponsible.”
MK Gila Gamliel (Likud), the coalition’s coordinator in the Knesset Finance Committee, called for the government to make the plan a top priority, over Lapid’s 0 percent VAT housing plan.
“The plan is ready,” a source in the Prime Minister’s Office told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “It was supposed to go to a vote yesterday, but that was canceled. The plan is to bring it up at the next government meeting.”
The source explained that the ministers cannot vote over the phone, because of the plan’s complexity and cost.