Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yesh Atid head and former finance minister Yair Lapid told a town hall meeting in Rishon Letzion on Saturday that “relations between Israel and the United States have never been worse.”
Lapid, who just returned from a trip to the US, said that he was “enlisting in the war against the boycott because I’m an Israeli patriot.”
In his conversations with US officials, Lapid said he was told that due to the poor ties between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, “it’s no wonder that nobody listens to you when it comes to the Iranian issue.”
Lapid told the audience in Rishon Letzion that “not having a full-time foreign minister in Israel is a dangerous situation for the country.”
The former treasury chief said that this state of affairs explains “the government’s failure in combating an anti-Israel boycott.”
“In a properly functioning government, a foreign minister would handle this matter,” Lapid said. “But there is no foreign minister. They divided the Foreign Ministry into six different ministers, all out of ulterior political motives. Can you imagine if the responsibility for the Defense Ministry would have been divided in six during Operation Protective Edge?”
“This is an amoral government that is harming Israel’s foreign relations while endangering its national security,” Lapid said. “I refused [Netanyahu’s offer] to be foreign minister, and I will do all in my power to make sure this government falls.”
When asked by the moderator of the discussion whether he would join Netanyahu’s ruling coalition at a later date, Lapid was adamant.
“I won’t let that happen,” he said. “This is a government that upon first entering power tried to cancel instituting the core curriculum [in ultra-Orthodox schools] and programs designed to encourage the ultra-Orthodox to head out into the job market.”
Lapid accused Netanyahu of “paying a political bribe” to United Torah Judaism, the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox party, in exchange for its entry into the government.
Lapid offered stinging criticism of Zionist Union leader and opposition chief Isaac Herzog for agreeing to have an opposition MK “offset” the absence of Oren Hazan, a Likud lawmaker who was suspended from his position as deputy Knesset speaker after Channel 2 reported that he had engaged in facilitating prostitution as well as the consumption of hard drugs during his time as a casino owner in Bulgaria.
Hazan was suspended until further notice. Herzog agreed to the offset in support of the speaker’s efforts to restore the Knesset’s dignity. “Offsetting” is a practice in the Knesset whereby an MK skips a vote so the absence of a lawmaker on the other side of the aisle doesn’t count.
“It’s not the opposition’s job [to help the ruling party],” Lapid said. “I have no idea how Herzog came to understand that this is the opposition’s role.”
The Yesh Atid leader condemned “the corruption that has taken over the Likud central committee and Israeli politics.”
“Why should we jump in to save the Likud?” Lapid wondered. “I would’ve done things differently if I were in the country at the time.”
The former finance minister criticized Netanyahu for his “Buddhist silence” on the matter, “as if it wasn’t his business.”
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