Yacimovich Slams Lapid's 'Cruel' Proposed Budget

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich says economic measures, including a 1.5% income tax hike, health tax on housewives, cuts in child allowances, and VAT at 18%, will hurt the middle class.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich convened a press conference Tuesday to assail the harsh proposed budgetary measures finalized Tuesday by Israel's Finance Minister Yair Lapid.

"I have no other way to describe this mass of decrees except as cruelty for its own sake, betrayal of the public and, above all, a serious economic mistake that will send the economy into recession," said Yacimovich, who also heads the Labor Party.

After continuing in this vein for a while, Yacimovich suddenly pulled out a drawing of a bomb, similar to the one Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used to describe Iran's nuclear program at the UN General Assembly last fall. Lapid had used a similar drawing during his election campaign.

"I want to use this distinguished platform to talk with the finance minister for a moment in the only language he understands," Yacimovich said. "Mr. Finance Minister, I want to show you what you're about to do to the Israeli middle class, and even more so to the poor.

"This is the bomb. This is the fuse," she said in English, and then switched back to Hebrew.

"These are the taxes you're going to impose upon Israelis. Health spending will rise. Parents' payments to preschools and schools will rise. You're going to raise VAT by 18 percent. And for dessert, also income tax, for everyone. And now my question is, where should the red line be drawn? The red line should be drawn right here."

"This is the red line," she reiterated in English, continuing in Hebrew, "Right here. Why right here? Because right here, this coming January, you're going to raise income taxes on the Israeli middle class again. And even before then, you're raising [taxes] on the poor, mainly VAT. And before that, you're hitting them with a deluge of decrees that, even in their worst and weirdest nightmares, they never dreamed would come from you."

"If that's the new politics, I miss the old politics," she concluded.

Oren Nachshon