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Lapid Against ‘Social Protests’

Finance Minister explains why he no longer supports ‘cost of living’ rallies. Social protests previously brought him to power.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 5/10/2013, 12:00 PM

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Finance Minister Yair Lapid explained Thursday night why he does not support the latest round of rallies calling to reduce the cost of living. Previous such rallies were credited with boosting his party’s showing in the elections.

“They told me that there will be a demonstration on Saturday. All I want to do is to put on a black t-shirt again, go down to the rally and say, ‘People, you’re demonstrating against yourselves,’” he told Channel 10.

Lapid’s ministry is behind the round of budget cuts that has protesters upset. The budget cuts will see child payments reduced and VAT added to the cost of fruits and vegetables, among other things.

The changes were necessary, Lapid argued. “This is a real effort to prevent the loss of your job, to prevent the business from falling apart around you,” he said.

“I understand that they’re angry about the situation,” he continued. “They were upset by me because they had expected a miracle. There are no miracles, there are no miracles when it comes to the economy. If there’s a 35 billion shekel deficit, nobody can make it just disappear.”

The middle class is suffering, he agreed, but others will feel the pinch of budget cuts as well. “We’re finding money in other places, also among communities that previously didn’t pay,” he argued.

During the elections Lapid campaigned on a platform of easing the cost of living for the Israeli middle class and boosting social mobility.

While Lapid argued against the planned Saturday night rally, MK Itzik Shmuli of the Labor party expressed his support. “I’m going to the rally Saturday night in a t-shirt, and on Sunday I’ll put on a button-down shirt and go fight in the Knesset,” he said.

Shmuli was one of the organizers of “social justice” rallies two years ago.