Finance Minister Yair Lapid dropped a political bombshell on Sunday, discussing
the importance of peace talks and hinting that the coalition would be better off
without Bayit Yehudi.
“It is essential for the market and the country
that this government continue, even if continuing in negotiations [with the
Palestinians] means the coalition will change in some way,” Lapid said at the
Globes Israel Business Conference in Tel Aviv.
Lapid and Economy Minister
Naftali Bennett formed a united front in coalition negotiations earlier this
year, agreeing to join the government only if both parties did, and were
Since then, each party leader has often been
careful not to criticize or threaten the other party openly. In recent months,
however, there has been increased tension between “the brothers” due to their
parties’ divergent ideologies, which reached a peak on Sunday with Lapid’s
“I will do everything, anything to prevent negotiations from
failing. I won’t let anyone dissolve the peace process,” Lapid
The Yesh Atid leader warned that without a peace agreement, the
economy and foreign relations will be harmed.
According to Lapid, “we
cannot continue avoiding the fact that peace has a painful price. The prime
minister said he recognizes this price. I believe and hope he has the historic
courage necessary to pay that price. That is what he committed to doing when we
formed the government, and I do not imagine that he didn’t mean every
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seemed unimpressed with Lapid’s
suggestion to change the coalition, saying after a meeting with Dutch Prime
Minister Mark Rutte in Herzliya: “We are trying to progress in the peace
process, and everyone in the government knows that. Everyone will make his own
decisions according to his considerations.
“We are promoting a policy of
peace and security and doing the right and responsible thing for the citizens of
Israel, not acting under pressure,” Netanyahu added.
A source close to
Bennett came out against Lapid, saying that Bayit Yehudi “will continue working
to lower the cost of living, including launching the committee on food prices in
“Cocktails in Oslo interest Israeli citizens much less than
food prices,” the source quipped.
Addressing the Globes conference after
Lapid, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel quoted the following Facebook
status by Channel 2 political reporter Amit Segal: “Once upon a time, there was
a minister named Lapid who led a party and called for a Likud prime minister to
change the coalition to promote peace. The prime minister accepted the idea and
threw out Lapid, taking in the haredim. The year was 2005. Are the father’s
actions a sign for his son?” Segal’s status referred to former justice minister
Tommy Lapid, the Shinui party and then-prime minister Ariel
“Whoever wants to leave is welcome to, but it won’t be us,” the
Bayit Yehudi minister said.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor)
welcomed Lapid’s comments, saying the Yesh Atid leader adopted Labor’s stance,
and inviting the finance minister to form a pro-peace bloc.
“We can now
say with great satisfaction that Labor has successfully created a large
political bloc at the center of the map that realizes that returning to
agreed-upon borders is the only way for the State of Israel’s future and
welfare,” Herzog stated. “Perhaps like this winter, which began with a drizzle,
the negotiations will turn into a diplomatic rushing river and bring historic
“I hope Yesh Atid will form the other side of the equation and
join us in case Netanyahu tries to avoid negotiations,” the opposition leader
Similarly, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz said Lapid
and Bennett’s “brotherhood is unnatural and will fall apart.”
“It is good
that Lapid finally realizes his natural place is with the peace camp,” said
Peretz. “Hatnua stands for renewing negotiations and working toward a peace
treaty. We are glad this process is making the bloc supporting peace in the
government more significant.”