JPost Election Arena: Yair Lapid.
(photo credit: screenshot)
The greatest responsibility for the high cost of living and particularly the exorbitant cost of housing in this country lies with one individual: Yair Lapid. No matter how Lapid spins it, no matter how he tries to distance himself from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he is the man most responsible for the parlous situation in which we find ourselves.
There are two reasons for this. First, the man was Netanyahu’s finance minister.
He was in charge of the monetary, financial and economic policy of this country. The buck stopped with him.
He failed, and he must be held accountable for his failure. Second and more importantly, Lapid did something worse than just failing. He betrayed the entire middle class, the very people who voted him in on the back of his promises to fix what ails them.
Prior to being elected, Lapid campaigned for office with the slogan, “Where is the money,” pointing his finger directly at the settlements. Immediately after being elected, he created a political pact with Naftali Bennett and essentially brought Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi Party into the government. This pact allowed the continued channeling of public resources to a small sector, at the expense of the majority of ordinary Israelis.
On Lapid’s watch the government was passing two budgets: one passed legally on the Knesset floor, and another, secret budget transferred in the Finance Committee, under the cover of darkness, headed by Bayit Yehudi and at times with limited supervision as to where the money was going. The total of that secret budget was billions of shekels that could have gone to improve healthcare, welfare, and education.
Lapid oversaw the transfer of vast sums of money to the settlements, home to less than 5% of Israelis, at the expense of all Israelis, including those most in need in the periphery in the north and the south.
Under Lapid, many new affordable homes were indeed built – in settlements, that is. But for most ordinary Israelis, the shortage of housing led to prices skyrocketing by 55%, and he did very little to stem the tide during his term as finance minister. Under Lapid, the financial burden has become crippling.
We thought that, when he said “share the burden,” he meant that we should all share the military burden. Little did we know that he meant expanding a crushing economic burden to more and more everyday Israelis.
Yair Lapid failed.
True, his party had a positive vision and commendable MKs who can point to certain positive steps they took within the five ministries they headed. But Lapid’s main promise – to lower the cost of living in this country, and mainly the cost of housing – remains unfulfilled.
Two years ago, many Israelis were duped into voting Lapid because they knew that the cost of living in Netanyahu’s Israel was unsustainable. Instead, Lapid took his 19 seats and brought us yet another term of Netanyahu, with an extra serving of Naftali Bennett. Lapid’s campaign this time around is nearly indistinguishable from his campaign in 2013. Two years ago, if you voted Lapid, you got Bibi. The same is true today: every vote that doesn’t go to the Zionist Union is a vote to keep Netanyahu in power.
On March 17, Israelis know better than to give Lapid another chance, because Israelis want real change. The Zionist Union, under the leadership of Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni and with its list of hard-working, socially-driven MKs promises to bring the change we all deserve.The writer is head of Zionist Union’s immigrant outreach efforts.