Finance, Interior Ministers Skip Meeting on Rehabilitating North

Only NIS 1b has been transferred so far to northern communities, despite cabinet promise to give NIS 4b.

Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On on Tuesday failed to attend a Knesset panel meeting, in which a discussion was held on the rehabilitation and development of northern communities in the aftermath of the second war in Lebanon.

The director generals of the Prime Minister's Office, the Interior Ministry and the Finance Ministry, also skipped their invitation to attend the meeting of the Knesset Committee of the Interior and the Environment.

Committee Chairman MK Ophir Pines-Paz accused the ministers and directors general of "fleeing the discussion as though from fire."

"After the war, all of the ministers ran to be members of a cabinet which would deal with the matter, but now the cabinet almost does not convene," added Pines-Paz.

Pines-Paz pointed out that although the cabinet promised to transfer NIS 4 billion to rehabilitate the north, only NIS 1 billion has been transferred so far, "and that was also late."

The head of the Mevo'ot Hermon Local Council, Meni Ben-Muvhar, said during the meeting that a third of the sum promised by the government has not yet been transferred. Among the funds withheld, he said, were those meant to compensate farmers for damages to their property.

Following the absence of the ministers and directors general, Pines-Paz refused to give representatives of either ministry permission to speak during the meeting. He asked the government representatives and the heads of local councils to update the committee on what has been done so far, and said the panel would convene again for a follow-up meeting in three months.