President Shimon Peres faced sharp criticism on Wednesday for the star-studded party thrown in honor of his 90th birthday.
Knesset members on the Right called the 11-million-shekel event a waste of money, even though it was funded by contributions and not taxpayers.
“The event that we saw yesterday was pompous, wasteful, and pretentious,” said MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud). “Woe to the country that cuts child welfare payments in the Knesset at the same time that its president holds a birthday celebration that costs millions. If it was funded by donations, Peres should have solicited contributions for the kids instead.”
Feiglin, who led demonstrations against Peres during the Oslo diplomatic process in the 1990s, said the party was the last event he would go to. He said he and thousands of other Israelis could never forgive Peres for the diplomatic concessions that resulted in hundreds of deaths.
“There is no man who harmed the country more than Shimon Peres,” Feiglin said. “The existence of the country in its land is being questioned in the West because of the Oslo process Peres symbolizes. Negotiations begin with an incorrect assumption that there is a Palestinian people with a right to a state, while the Palestinians deny our right to a Jewish state, and the world takes their side.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck complained on Facebook that rockets were being fired from the Gaza Strip on a day that the world was honoring Peres, who she recalled had promised that “Katyusha rockets would not be fired from Gaza to Ashkelon.”
“While world leaders were taking part in the modest celebrations for Peres, the leaders in Gaza have contributed their modest part by firing a missile to Ashkelon to remind us what Peres said,” Struck wrote on her Facebook page.
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) lashed out at Peres for putting a map of Israel in pre-’67 borders on the tickets for the event. Struck noted the irony of Barbara Streisand singing a traditional song about Gâ€‘d having mercy on our children with that map in the background.
Shas leader Arye Deri said he chose not to attend the gala event because of the tough situation facing the poorest sectors of the population.
But Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said that despite his right-wing views, he had no problem attending. “My wife wanted to see Streisand,” he said. v