Labor MKs: Shelly should've taken Finance portfolio

Amid storm over Lapid's budget, Labor MKs say it was a mistake not to have seriously considered Netanyahu's offer to join gov't.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich presents her red line 37 (photo credit: marc israel sellem)
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich presents her red line 37
(photo credit: marc israel sellem)
Seeing the problems in the budget that Finance Minister Yair Lapid has presented makes it clearer than ever that Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich made a big mistake by not joining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government, MKs in her own party said Thursday.
Yacimovich received repeated offers from Netanyahu to enter the government. He reportedly offered her 15-MK faction six portfolios, including Finance, Interior, and Industry and Trade.
“Shelly owes an apology to the middle class in Israel,” said MK Erel Margalit. “She received an opportunity to come into the government and take care of the middle class, build the country, return it to the path of growth and return the Israeli citizens to the center of attention. When she said no, she left the job for Lapid.”
Margalit complained that Lapid was inexperienced and lacked the vision that the Labor movement had to lead a different economy. He said Labor had proved it had that vision when Yitzhak Rabin took over the country in 1992 and inherited not only a deficit, but also a million new immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
“We should have been there as a strong force in the government,” he said of the current situation. “Labor should be presenting a real alternative to rebuilding this country in these difficult times.”
On Tuesday, Yacimovich called a press conference to complain about Lapid’s budget, but she did not permit any other Labor MKs to speak – even though some have significant economic experience, and Knesset Economics Committee chairman Avishay Braverman is a world-renowned economist. MKs boycotted the press conference in protest.
“In retrospect, Shelly needed to seriously consider joining the government,” MK Isaac Herzog said. “It was a mistake not to seriously consider Netanyahu’s offer and discuss alternatives with top Labor leaders. She could have built a different government, been a terrific finance minister, and reached a better deal with the Histadrut.”
Herzog said that had Labor controlled the Finance Ministry, the rich would have had to pay more and the poor less, instead of across-the-board tax hikes. He said Labor would have done more to bridge socioeconomic gaps and encourage development of industry rather than growth in settlements.
But MK Merav Michaeli said it was right not to have joined Netanyahu’s government.
“Even if Labor would have succeeded in having some influence, it still would have had to give up most of its principles,” she said. “Labor’s job is to present an alternative to replace this bad government as soon as possible.”