Likud: Lapid cancelling talks is 'transparent spin'

Yesh Atid says Likud insists on 28 ministers, while Erdan says number of portfolios will be "significantly decreased."

Yair Lapid 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yair Lapid 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yesh Atid canceled coalition talks on Wednesday, saying Likud Beytenu is insisting on a government with 28 ministers, while the latter called Yair Lapid's party's claims "transparent spin."
A senior Likud source said Yesh Atid is "trying to distract the public from the bigger question."
"Why, when throughout the election Lapid asked 'where is the money,' he has yet to respond to our offer to be the next Finance Minister, where the money is found and changes and reforms can be made," he said.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad accused Yesh Atid of being afraid of Lapid becoming Finance Minister and needing to make unpopular decisions.
"That's not part of 'new politics,'" he said, referring to a party catchphrase, "so they're trying to make it seem like an argument about values."
According to Erdan, Likud Beytenu is not seeking a government with 28 ministers, rather, it intends to "significantly reduce" the number of portfolios from the outgoing government, which had 30.
In addition, Erdan told Army Radio, there will be no ministers without portfolio, which is another of Yesh Atid's demands.
In what may be the first cracks in the Bayit Yehudi-Yesh Atid alliance, Naftali Bennett's party is not willing to insist on an 18-seat government.
In fact, sources in the Bayit Yehudi said the party is ready to sign a coalition agreement, but is waiting for Yesh Atid, because of their pact.
Sources close to both the Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi negotiating teams said the former is aiming for a government with 25 portfolios, and is willing to go down to 23-22 if necessary.
Still, Yesh Atid MK and close Lapid ally Ofer Shelach said on Wednesday afternoon that Likud Beytenu is insisting on 28 ministries.
Talk about Lapid rejecting the Finance Ministry are "spins manufactured by the Likud," Shelach added.
Still, when asked on Army Radio whether Lapid wants the position, Shelach said "Yesh Atid deserves one of the three senior portfolios. We won't discuss which one until we get an answer to our demand on the number of ministries."
Another Yesh Atid source close to Lapid said they will not be flexible and allow even one more ministry.
"When the next budget is passed, there are going to be major cuts and the public will have to pay. In that situation, its not fair for their money to go to an overinflated government," she stated.
The source also called concerns in the Likud about a shrinking number of portfolios meaning that some of the party's current ministers being demoted to MKs "irrelevant as far as Yesh Atid is concerned."