Minister of Finance and Prime Minister. Freezing funds for the Arab sector allowed Smotrich to position himself to the right of Netanyahu, who was outraged by the move/Reuven Castro
Less than two months ago, with all eyes on him – and after preparing well for the move – the finance minister stood before the nation and announced that he was blocking the transfer of hundreds of millions of shekels to Arab local authorities in Israel.
As written, Smotrich prepared well for the move: he received legal advice stating that it was within his authority, and even if he knew that the day would come when he would be forced to release the funds, it was clear to him that he could play for time and earn points in the political arena, less against Israel's Arab citizens and more against the base, as the right wing of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was outraged by the decision.
Smotrich's capitulation came in stages, finally he is only the man in charge of the treasury, but the funds in it do not belong to him, but to all Israeli citizens, including Arab citizens of Israel. He then announced that the funds would be transferred, but only under control mechanisms designed to prevent their leakage to criminal elements (a problem that does exist, but certainly not only in the Arab sector) and even to terrorist elements.
What are those mechanisms? A "special task force" as defined by the Minister of Finance, headed by the Director General of his ministry and in cooperation with the Tax Authority, the Accountant General of the Ministry of Finance and enforcement agencies. Has this task force completed its work in such a short span of time?
Moshe Gafni, Chairman of the Finance Committee. Committee asked to approve transfer of NIS 200 million to local authorities in the Arab sector/image processing, Jonathan Zindel Flash 90
Now, in a feeble voice and without having to face the cameras, he instructed the Finance Ministry's budget commissioner, Yogev Gradus, to submit a request to the Finance Committee to discuss transferring NIS 200 million to Arab local authorities.
Incidentally, the transfer of funds is required as part of the increased budgeting of the Arab authorities in accordance with the government decision of October 2021, that is, during the term of the "government of change," to which an Arab party is a member for the first time.
On the one hand, it is important for Smotrich to mention that it was not the current government that determined the budget. On the other hand, by transferring the funds, he becomes a full partner in carrying out the policies of his predecessor. It should be noted that prior to the Finance Ministry's request from the Finance Committee, it allowed the transfer of funds to local councils in the Arab sector through the Ministry of the Interior, "in return" for funds frozen by the Finance Ministry.
- More on the subject:
- Bezalel Smotrich
- Finance Committee
- The Arab Sector
- Ministry of Finance