MKs Trade Verbal Blows With Oligarch Gaydamak Over Home Front

Gaydamak accuses lawmakers of inaction; MK Orlev defends Gaydamak's tent city while admonishing him over accusations.

A Knesset discussion on the management of the home front during the Second Lebanon War turned heated on Wednesday, with members of the State Control Committee exchanging words and accusations with oligarch Arcadi Gaydamak.

The Russian billionaire has accused the Home Front Command of inaction since last summer's war, when he funded a tent city on a southern beach to host people under constant Katyusha rocket attacks in Israel's north.

Gaydamak caused a stir during Wednesday's meeting when he said that "the ministers are just sitting and talking and trying to defend their interests, be part of the government and protect their positions and salaries."

After committee members responded to the comments with fury, the chairman of the committee, MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party), defended Gaydamak's statements, while demanding he retract them.

Labor MK Shelly Yachimovitch responded saying, "Is it money that buys the right to sit here in the committee and talk like that?"

Gaydamak responded to her comments by saying "You need to be here because it's your job. Do I need to be here?"

Orlev said in defense of Gaydamak, "A Jew came in and responds to a real need. There was a need to give people air during the war."

Despite his more forgiving approach, however, Orlev said Gaydamak would not be called to speak before the Knesset again if he continued verbally attacking its lawmakers.

"I warned you that this meeting would turn into a show," Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog said.