Israeli Finance Minister's Ad Campaign Raises Knesset Hackles

Finance committee chief suspends debate over budget cuts to pay for Family Net program

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon speaking at the Herzliya Conference, June 20, 2017.
Hagai Frid

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s ad campaign, which by implication touts his “Family Net” program of tax breaks and other benefits, raised the hackles of lawmakers on Monday and led to suspension of the legislation needed to fund it.

Moshe Gafni, a United Torah Judaism lawmaker and chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, suspended debate of 1.1 billion shekels ($310 million) in budget cuts the treasury asked for last week, some of which will be used in connection with Family Net.

Gafni, whose party is part of the coalition with Kahlon’s Kulanu faction, objected to the billboard ads sponsored by Kulanu having appeared in recent days, and taking credit by implication for the program with the slogan, “Your net. Kahlon’s net.”

“When the finance committee approved the tax credits [for “Family Net”] we didn’t know that afterwards it would be used for election propaganda in the streets,” Gafni said. “Without me it won’t pass. I did everything to make sure everything connected with ‘Family Net’ would pass in a single vote.”

With the budget cuts up for a vote, Gafni said, “Now we’ll have to decide whether the steps the treasury is proposing are good for the country or just part of an election campaign.”

Yizhak Vaknin (Shas) and David Bitan (Likud) also attacked Kahlon for using the program to score political points. Miki Zohar (Likud) said he would oppose the budget cuts even though much of them are being used to fund the costs of coalition agreements, including some he negotiated. “We’re not ready to make cuts at any price,” he said.