Where’s the money? Yair Lapid asked continuously throughout his campaign. It’s a
good question, one that we’ve been asking for years.
Lapid could agree to
be Israel’s next finance minister.
That’s where the money is. The finance
minister decides how to allocate all government funds. This is the most
appropriate position for someone who’s been asking where the money is, isn’t it?
So why doesn’t Lapid want it? Because he knows that the next finance minister
will be the bad guy. He knows that Binyamin Netanyahu will dump all his problems
on Lapid, just as Ariel Sharon dumped his on Bibi (when he held the post) a
And Netanyahu doesn’t want to lose the next election to
Lapid. The best way to prevent this is to stick Lapid in the Treasury and make
him cut NIS 20 billion from the budget. We’ll see how the middle class reacts to
that. And since Lapid does in fact want to be the next prime minister, and is
not very interested in being the national punching bag, he’s currently refusing
to take the Finance Ministry.
And I don’t blame him.
reason for Lapid to voluntarily commit political suicide. When he publicly
announced that he would run for prime minister in the next election and would
win, it should have been clear to him that Netanyahu would never give him the
From Netanyahu’s point of view, the idea of having
Lapid replace him amounts to treason, a breach of trust and a violation of the
Holy of Holies. So the only option Lapid has is to take the Finance Ministry,
which he doesn’t want.
So what’s Lapid going to do? He has two options.
The first one is to compromise.
Netanyahu wants the cabinet to comprise
28 ministers, whereas Lapid wants only 18.
They could meet in the middle
and settle on 24, and then pass legislation that beginning with the next
government, there would be only 18 ministers.
So which ministries could
Lapid have? Either he goes back to his roots and takes the Education Ministry,
where no one needs to teach him anything, and he’d be able to make his mark, or
he could form his own senior social-economic portfolio.
It’s perfect for him and many of his people also support
it: Remaining in the opposition.
Lapid won’t gain anything from joining
Netanyahu is conniving and manipulative. He will never
let Lapid achieve any real results.
Netanyahu won’t make any progress in
the political arena, he’ll ignore the social issues, and everyone will leave
feeling battered and frayed. Why would Lapid want to be a part of this? Instead,
he could hold steadfastly to his demand for 18 ministers. If Naftali Bennett of
Bayit Yehudi remains by his side, then new elections would have to be held. And
if Bennett folds (which is the more likely scenario), then Netanyahu will form a
government with the haredim, Bennett and Tzipi Livni of Hatnua. I can’t wait to
see Barack Obama’s face when he arrives here in two weeks.
form a shadow government and will make Netanyahu’s life an utter
I wouldn’t reject this option outright.
meantime, this game of chicken continues. It will last until the very last
moment (March 16). When Obama arrives on March 20, Netanyahu will be bleary-eyed
and grouchy and his nerves will be shot. But he’ll only have himself to blame.
How is it that he doesn’t have a team of quality, expert advisers? Other than
his bureau head Gil Shefer, the only sane person around, he has no one.
Netanyahu has to do everything by himself, and that’s exactly how it
Everyone who ever worked with him has moved on.
Shlomo, Netanyahu’s former political adviser, is now advising Naftali Bennett.
Eyal Gabai, the Prime Minister’s Office former director-general, is now
Moshe Leon, another former director-general, is now
Avigdor Liberman’s representative in the coalition negotiations.
people who used to be Netanyahu’s close friends have distanced themselves from
him. Everyone who worked with him at one time or another was either sacked or
has abandoned him.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.