Lapid and Steinitz at Finance Ministry handover 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Newly-minted Finance Minister Yair Lapid forewarned the Israeli public of upcoming cuts to the state budget in order to deal with the deficit, saying that "the picture that is being unfolded before me is worse than I estimated."
In a written statement, Lapid said that the time had arrived to confront the deficit. "We will work hard, reduce, make cuts, including in places where it hurts." Lapid stressed that the austerity measures "would be difficult" but he added optimistically that the period of difficulty would not be long "if we act now."
Lapid stated that he would "have preferred to be doing happier things but I believe that my role is to go exactly where it is difficult." The finance minister emphasized that the deficit arose as a result of irresponsible economic management and he would not repeat this mistake.
In coalition talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud Beytenu faction, Lapid insisted on heading the Foreign Ministry but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman that he would save the ministry for him. Liberman can not serve as foreign minister while an indictment is pending against him so Netanyahu is filling the ministry until the charge is resolved.