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Lapid: Not Afraid to Make Unpopular Decisions

Incoming Finance Minister clarifies: My job is not to be popular, but to lead.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 3/15/2013, 8:50 PM

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Flash 90

Shortly after the coalition agreements between the Likud/Yisrael Beytenu and the Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi parties were signed on Friday afternoon, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid asked the Israeli public to give him a chance.

Lapid, who will be sworn in as Finance Minister next week, indicated that he is not afraid to make decisions in his new role that will cause his popularity to decline.

“The Finance Minister's chair should not be occupied by an external expert, but by a politician who has a significant political force behind him,” Lapid wrote on his Facebook page.

Referring to the suggestions that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed him as Finance Minister in order to damage his political career, Lapid wrote, “This theory does not hold water. If we do not take the Israeli economy out of the deep mud which it is in, Netanyahu will be hurt no less than me.”

"The need to work well together is a common interest to both of us, and interests are a very powerful thing," said Lapid, who has already met with outgoing Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

"I am not afraid to make moves that will hurt my popularity,” he emphasized. “My job is not to be popular, but to lead. I went into the election with the slogan 'Where's the money?’ and this is a binding statement.”

Lapid said that the Finance Minister's role is to conduct the daily struggle to protect the country's economy and citizens, adding that he intends to fight for the middle class, which he said "has suffered from two decades of neglect."

"It's not going to be easy, and it will get worse before it gets better," he wrote.

Earlier on Friday, coalition agreements were signed with both Lapid’s party and the Bayit Yehudi. Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett said after the signing, "We promised during the elections to take care of the cost of living, increase competitiveness in the market and return the Jewish soul to the state - and now we’ve got the tools to do it. This is a government of big opportunities - and we will not miss it. Next week we start working - all together."

A deadlock which was reached during Thursday’s negotiations was solved early Friday morning, when Netanyahu spoke on the phone with both Bennett and Lapid, and convinced them to drop their demand to be appointed Vice Prime Minister in the next government.

The two leaders' agreement to give up on this title paved the way for the coalition negotiations to be finalized.

Shortly before the Sabbath Netanyahu conveyed the following message to the citizens of Israel:

Dear citizens of Israel,

Congratulations, we have a new government.

I thank you for awarding me the privilege of serving you as Prime Minister for the 3rd time. I view this as both a great privilege and a major responsibility.

I will see to it that the new government works for the benefit of all Israeli citizens, and guarantees first and foremost the security of each and every one of you.

The new government enters upon its stewardship when major challenges in a stormy and turbulent Middle East are gathering around us.

Through joint effort we can overcome these challenges, and also guarantee the necessary changes to lower the cost of living and particularly housing prices, while enhancing an equitable sharing of the burden.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)