September 27, 2023

The ultra-Orthodox lawmaker says he plans to convene the committee to discuss the cost of living crisis.

Moshe Gafni of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party was named chair of the parliament’s Finance Committee on Monday, returning to his long-time role.

Gafni was ousted from the position in 2021 when his party became part of the opposition. Alex Kushnir from the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party replaced Gafni, but the results of the November 1 election saw him edged out of the parliament (Knesset) and his party fall into the opposition.

After being appointed, the ultra-Orthodox lawmaker said he plans to convene the committee to discuss the cost of living crisis affecting Israelis.

This comes as the Bank of Israel raised its benchmark interest rate by half a point on Monday, saying it believes more hikes were needed to cool inflation. The inflation rate is still running above 5 percent in the Jewish state, while the economy remains strong and the labor market is tight.

Gafni commented on this move shortly after being confirmed to the chair: “I heard that the governor of the Bank of Israel intends to raise the interest rate in the economy, and the meaning is that the mortgage holders will pay more money. I intend to hold an extensive discussion on the matter as soon as possible.”

Also on Monday, Likud lawmaker and former Israeli Major General Yoav Gallant was appointed as the temporary chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to replace Yesh Atid lawmaker Ram Ben Barak.

It is unclear whether he will remain in that position, as some reports state he may be tapped to become the next defense minister.

“The threats on Israeli security and efforts to keep it safe… don’t stop for a moment and are not dependent on the politics of the moment,” Gallant said, regarding his appointment. “The security challenges are complex, and the many tasks and different fronts are diverse.”

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