At Least Five MKs to Vote Against Coalition Unless Budget Approved for Roads

YERUSHALAYIM -
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (R.) with Shomron regional council head Yossi Dagan at a protest tent set up outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s residence in Yerushalayim on Sunday.  (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

At least five members of the coalition have informed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that they will not vote on coalition-sponsored bills this Knesset session unless the government follows through on the allocation it promised for construction of roads in Yehudah and Shomron. Netanyahu last week promised NIS 800 million for those projects, to be included in the state budget, but MKs have been skeptical about whether Netanyahu will push sufficiently for that allocation.

Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev was the latest to join the group, which now includes him and Likud MK Oren Chazan. Chazan said that three other MKs who did not want to be named publicly had told Netanyahu the same thing. And while other Knesset members have not made a public declaration, many, including MKs from Jewish Home, Likud and Kulanu, have dropped by a protest tent where Shomron council head Yossi Dagan, Kiryat Arba-Chevron local council head Malachi Levinger, and wife of a murdered police officer, Hadas Mizrachi, among others, have been sitting since Sunday outside the prime minister’s residence. Baruch Mizrachi, Hy”d, was killed in a terror attack on Erev Pesach 2014 in a shooting attack in the Har Chevron area as he was driving with his wife and children to a Pesach Seder.

Yogev said that “this is not an idle threat. Unless the Cabinet on Sunday approves this funding – which is still not sufficient for the need – I, too, will be forced to abandon the course of reasonable discussion on this matter, which has been going on for years, but to no avail. This is not mere politics, but a stand on matters of life and death. It’s time to recognize these needs and provide the necessary funding.”

Last week, Dagan said that a “crisis of trust” had developed between the government and residents of Yehudah and Shomron. “People are getting killed in terror attacks, and time after time politicians come promising more security, better roads, more lighting, and other things that are considered basic elsewhere in Israel. You can’t build homes without paved roads, and you can’t build security on empty promises.” If things don’t improve, “we will sleep on the street outside the government, like families of those who lost loved ones to terror attacks have done in protest.”

Kiryat Arba-Chevron local council head Malachi Levinger said that the government was ignoring day-to-day needs as well. “The situation today is untenable. The roads are terrible, there are endless traffic jams and people cannot get to work. The prime minister has promised already for three months new plans for roads, but so far nothing.” Other heads of local authorities, including the mayors of Beit El and Beit Aryeh, expressed similar thoughts.

Hadas Mizrachi said that her parents lived in Kiryat Arba, and that it was very difficult to get there. “You can’t drive to Kiryat Arba without getting attacked with rocks or firebombs,” she said.

“Why do residents of Yehudah and Shomron have to suffer like this? I am here to demand that the government allocate funds for road repairs, and to increase cellular coverage, so that we can call for assistance when it is needed.” Had there been better cell phone coverage, Mizrachi added, it’s possible that she could have called for help more quickly and perhaps even saved her husband’s life.