Former Minister of Finance Yair Lapid said today on a Galei Tzahal (Israel Army Radio) program that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu had not told the truth when he claimed that he had been forced to appoint Lapid as minister of finance, and called the Prime Minister “dangerous.”
“I admit that I forced many things on Netanyahu, such as equalizing the burden and reducing the number of ministers, but Minister of Finance? The first offer I got from him was to be minister of finance. We didn’t force anything on him. We did work to see what was happening in the Ministry of Finance, and I told my advisers to get ready: I’m going to go from being the most popular politician in Israel to the least popular within a month, because we had to rebuild the ruins they left there. I could have been minister of foreign affairs and the most popular,” Lapid said.
Commenting on the recent polls showing his party gradually gaining strength, Lapid declared, “People are slowly coming to understand, after getting over the first round of disappointment with us. They’re starting to tell themselves that we’re the only ones who did anything. The burden has been equalized, the cabinet has been reduced to 18 ministers, there’s a 300% rise in haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) going to work, there are summer camps for kids, there’s a billion shekels for Holocaust survivors… I think we did good work.”
When asked about taking responsibility, Lapid answered, “I think it went to my head a little. We were intoxicated by winning 19 seats, but you don’t learn until you get hit – and we got hit, and we learned. All in all, I think our learning curve was good.”
Lapid attacked Netanyahu, saying, “The prime minister held a press conference and said that they tried to make a putsch against him. Nothing like that ever happened. I sat with him and told him that it was all made up, that I wasn’t conspiring against him with the haredim, that someone had told him a made-up story. I’m willing to take responsibility for many things, but not for the government’s fall. We wanted to continue with our housing plan, and we wanted to pass the most socially conscious budget there has been here for many years, with a supplement of over NIS 10 billion for health, education, and welfare.
“They educated me to talk nicely about the prime minister. When things happened that I thought were bad, such as the deterioration in relations with the US, as I saw in the cabinet, I stood up and said so out loud. When I saw corrupt things like buying the airplane for Netanyahu, we stood up and voted against it. That’s moral corruption, and those things were said on the spur of the moment.”
Lapid said that he received a bad inheritance from Yuval Steinitz, his predecessor. When asked about Steinitz’s denials, Lapid answered, “Steinitz can claim whatever he likes forever – facts are facts, and numbers are numbers. I entered the Ministry of Finance with a NIS 40 billion deficit, and I’m leaving without any such deficit: with a deficit of 2.6% of GDP and 5.6% unemployment.”
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