Photo: Gil Yohanan
Finance Minister Yair Lapid
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Lapid: Important issues are stuck - and Netanyahu's standing by

Finance minister says he won't quit coalition as he doesn't want to concede control of the government to Likud; 'I'm not afraid of elections, but the state of Israel doesn't need elections right now.'

"I'm not afraid of elections," Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who heads the second-largest faction in the coalition, said Saturday after a week of turmoil in Israeli politics over the contentious 'Nationality Law.'



Speaking at a cultural event in Tel Aviv, Lapid asserted that Netanyahu was working with "five Likud members who control the country, affect the other party members and convince Netanyahu not to accept the budget."


Lapid continued his onslaught against Netanyahu by saying that "on dramatic issues, everything is stuck and the prime minister stands by - the state budget, Israel's diplomatic relations, citizens' sense of security, the housing issues and others.


"Instead, (Netanyahu and the Likud members) are dealing with the most minor kind of politics - polls and political survival."


Lapid vs. Netanyahu (Photos: Motti Kimchi, Emil Salman)
Lapid vs. Netanyahu (Photos: Motti Kimchi, Emil Salman)


The finance minister admitted that "a big part of this crisis is personal, but not all of it. It can be resolved in a conversation between us, but that's also a decision on a change of policy that the prime minister needs to make."


The Yesh Atid leader explained why he wasn't resigning from the government and joining the opposition: "It's all nice and fun to be in the opposition, but I'd rather actually do things. You can't give free medicine to Holocaust survivors from the opposition. Last month, for the first time since 2007, housing prices started going down. The trend is positive, but now Likud members are coming and stopping it. I regret that the state budget has become a hostage to politicos.


"If I announce my retirement from the government tomorrow, there'll have a party at the Likud because they get to keep all the ministries. I'm not afraid of elections, but the state of Israel doesn't need elections right now."


Lapid rejected claims he was trying to put together an alternative coalition. "This is complete nonsense. I'm not trying to form an alternative coalition, I'm not a complete idiot. The haredim will never join me, especially not after we passed the burden equality law, introduced core curriculum studies to Shas schools and balanced out the yeshivot's budget."


The finance minister wouldn't point fingers at who was to blame for the shaky relations with the United States, but stressed that this was a low point and that American veto at the UN against anti-Israel resolutions is no longer guaranteed.


"I won't be made to speak against the prime minister while I'm still sitting in his government. But it's not like the relations (with the US) are deteriorating, we've already hit bottom. We're at the lowest point of our relationships with them ever. No one knows what they'll do when Abbas turns to the Security Council."


Senior Likud officials were outraged by Lapid's comments. "There's no limit and there's no shame to Lapid's duplicity who, on the one hand, is talking about 'new politics' and on the other hand is dealing with the ugliest side of old politics," one of them said.


"After he failed in running the economy, he tried to pass a budget that hurts the IDF and security and promoted a law that won't lower housing prices, it'll only benefit contractors connected to his advisers and party members - Lapid is now going behind (Netanyahu's) back to haredi factions to tempt them to throw a coup d'etat," the officials said.


"The public that gave Lapid 19 mandates expects him to leave the path of threats, dictates, lashing out and populism and finally start acting responsibly for the good of the people and state."


פרסום ראשון: 11.29.14, 14:03
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