Lapid, Steinitz in First Working Meeting

Incoming minister of treasury meets the outgoing minister for two hours.

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Gil Ronen,

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Incoming Minister of Treasury, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, met with the present Minister of Treasury, Yuval Steinitz, at a Ramat Aviv coffee shop on Friday. The meeting, which lasted two hours, was the men's first working meeting.

Later Friday, Lapid rejected the theory that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed him to the job so that he would fail at it, thus reducing Lapid's chances of threatening Netanyahu's position as the nation's leader.

Lapid wrote, "I am familiar, of course, with the clever theory that says Netanyahu offered me the job so that I would fail, thus ridding him of a potential rival. Like most conspiracy theories, however, it does not hold water. Even people who do not trust Netanyahu must know that if the minister of treasury fails, he takes down the prime minister with him.

"If we are unable to extricate Israel's economy from the morass it is in – and with every passing day I realize, to my dread, how deep it is – Netanyahu will be damaged no less than I will. The need to work well together is a common interest for both of us, and interests are a very strong thing.  

"Besides, I am not afraid to take steps that would damage my popularity. Being popular is great fun, but it is not a purpose in itself. If I start asking myself, before every decision, whether it will damage my popularity – I will not make any decisions."

Lapid said that his job as Treasury Minister will be "to protect the Israeli middle class, which has been suffering from two decades of neglect."

"It won't be easy," he added, "and things will get worse before they get better, but… I am not one to run away from battles."