Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid said yesterday the Zionist Camp was “not really determined to lead the opposition,” and accused them of silence in the face of the “recipe for disaster” inherent in the new government.
Speaking at a cultural event at Habima Theater in Tel Aviv, Lapid criticized the Zionist Union for not speaking out, considering that “the education system in Israel will now be controlled by three sectorial parties,” referring to Habayit Hayehudi’s MK Naftali Bennett as minister, United Torah Judaism’s MK Meir Porush as deputy minister and MK Meshulam Nahari from Shas as chairman of the Knesset Education Committee. Two of these factions, Lapid said, referring to UTJ and Shas, “oppose the very idea of a core curriculum.”
“This is a recipe for disaster,” said Lapid, “and the Zionist Union is silent because everyone knows that they would have given that and even more, and maybe they’re waiting for a phone call to invite them to participate. If they don’t lead from the opposition, we’ll lead it,” Lapid said.
The Yesh Atid leader was also critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to expand the government beyond 18 ministers, the number mandated by a law Lapid pushed through in the last Knesset. Lapid said the plan was “political corruption” and that Yesh Atid would petition the High Court of Justice over it. “They tell us there is no budgetary cost to this,” referring to the appointment of more ministers, “but this is an outright lie. I was Finance Minister and it’s hard to sell me such foolishness. This step will cost hundreds of millions, Lapid said, because every ministry hands out “endless” political appointments.
Lapid said he phoned Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, who declined to join Netanyahu’s coalition at the eleventh hour last week, to congratulate him on his decision. “That is a correct and courageous step. We work together in very close cooperation. For example, the 18-minister law is a law we worked on together,” Lapid added.
In response to Lapid’s remarks, Zionist Union said it was “amusing” to see Lapid, so recently a member of Netanyahu’s government “playing opposition,” adding: “He would be better off learning from [Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac] Herzog that when he says something he means it, and stop helping the nationalist government Netanyahu is establishing by irresponsible statements that split the opposition.”
Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli dismissed Lapid’s charge that his party might bolt the opposition and join Netanyahu’s government. “This time the right wing will have to do without the left-wing babysitter who comes to clean up after it,” said Shmuli yesterday. “We are in the opposition and we will stay there, despite all the feelers put out and the temptations. And anyone who thinks differently will collide with a strong wall within the faction.”