Daily Israel Report

Netanyahu Losing Patience with Lapid, Say Associates

Netanyahu feels negotiations with Yesh Atid are starting off on the wrong foot because of Lapid's many demands.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/1/2013, 3:15 AM

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Flash 90

Coalition negotiations have not yet formally started, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is reportedly already losing his patience with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, Channel 2 News reported on Thursday.

The report quoted associates of Netanyahu as having said the Prime Minister believes Lapid is working towards becoming Prime Minister himself in the future and is thus making it difficult for Netanyahu by setting impossible demands on the negotiations.

“This is not how a person who wants to be the senior coalition partner behaves,” the associates said, according to Channel 2, adding that Lapid wants to be the one to determine the government's basic principles and the number of ministers that will be appointed, prerogatives of the Prime Minister's party.

Lapid’s demands are causing Netanyahu to feel that the negotiations are starting on the wrong foot, the associates indicated.

Lapid, whose newly formed party made a surprise showing in last week’s election and became the Knesset’s second largest party, has made it clear in the past that he would not join a government which has ministers without portfolios, saying that these positions are “corruption” and a waste of money. They are used by prime ministers to balance the power of coalition members so as to obtain a lasting government, but involve major expenses.

“A minister without portfolio is like a professional who comes to your home and says, ‘Let's do the job without an invoice.’ At that moment he thinks only of himself, just like a minister without portfolio. He thinks only about his own personal gain,” Lapid said during an appearance in a public forum last May.

He has also demanded that any government that is established promote “equal sharing of the burden”, essentially calling to draft all yeshiva students immediately into the army. This has caused hareidi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism to be concerned that they will be left out of the government, despite being the Likud’s historic “natural coalition partners”. It is also nearly impossible to accomplish as the IDF has no provision for that many new soldiers. There have been practical compromise solutions, most notably that advanced by former IDF Chief of Stafff, MK Moshe Yaalon.

Lapid dismissed Thursday’s reports as “spins” and wrote on his Facebook page, “Remember that most of what you hear is rumors put out there by interested parties. In the coming weeks patience is the key.”

Netanyahu has the possibility of creating a coalition with a narrow majority by including the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), Shas, United Torah Judaism and possibly Kadima, leaving Lapid out. However, he has several times stressed his desire to form as broad a coalition as possible.