Netanyahu, Lapid Agree on Budget Cuts
Finance Minister Yair Lapid is getting to work on eliminating the large deficit in Israel, and has agreed with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on a series of cuts, to be implemented in the next state budget.
The two have reportedly agreed in principle to cut the defense budget and the various stipends to citizens, especially those provided to families with many children.
However, Lapid is expected to face strong opposition to the move from Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who is opposed to any cuts to his budget.
Yaalon said on Sunday during a meeting of a forum of the heads the defense industry that he will not lend a hand to the harming of Israel’s defense industry and research. The hareidi-religious parties, which have been left in the opposition, will also reject cuts to the stipends.
The announcement of the impending budget cuts came a day after Lapid admitted he would have to implement tough economic cuts in order to repair Israel’s economy.
"I have discovered that there is a monstrous, growing overdraft in our bank account," Lapid wrote in a message to his supporters on Saturday night.
“It's time to deal with that overdraft,” he added. “We'll work hard, we’ll limit ourselves, we’ll reduce expenses, we will also have to cut where it’s most painful. It will be difficult, it will be stressful, but there's another advantage: If we do this now, it will not continue for a long time.”
Opposition leader MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor) was quick to criticize Lapid, who said in his statement that previous governments had “partied” by taking huge loans.
“There is a past,” she wrote on Facebook, mocking the name of Lapid’s party, Yesh Atid – There is a Future.
“Lapid woke up in the morning sounding exactly, but exactly, like Netanyahu,” she said.
Pretending to write in Lapid’s voice, Yechimovich continued, “My brothers, the workers, you will keep being the state’s ATM and paying the price. My fellow workers, I don’t understand economy, like I told you, but I’m getting my first lessons in economics from the Finance Ministry officials.”
President Shimon Peres warned on Sunday against a cut in the military budget so long as there is no “cut” in Israel's enemies.
“I will support a cut in the defense budget, but only when there is a cut to the threats and the number of enemies of the state,” Peres said at a celebration at the central IDF base for the Binyamin region, in Beit El.