Finance Minister Yair Lapid called Shas leader Aryeh Deri “a liar” in an interview Thursday. Speaking to Israel Radio, Lapid said that Deri had made commitments when the two discussed funding for Shas-sponsored schools – but that Deri had completely ignored those commitments.
According to Lapid, Deri had agreed to enforce core curriculum studies in Shas schools. According to the new government policy, schools that fail to do so are not eligible for state funding. Shas schools were cut from the budget, but after Deri committed to the core curriculum, the funding was restored. Deri, Lapid said, had tried to give the impression that it was the Shas leader who had “won,” forcing Lapid to capitulate and restore funding to Shas schools. Lapid said that Deri had had nothing to do with it, and that the Treasury has said that funding could not be cut as yet, unless alternatives were in place for the students who were to be affected.
Lapid also responded to polls that stated that the public was unhappy with his work so far. According to the polls, a majority of Israelis said that Lapid was “unqualified” for the post of Finance Minister.
Lapid dismissed the polls. “In another year the public will understand that they were lucky to have a responsible individual at the helm of the economy,” he said. “The difference between populism and leadership is doing the right thing, even when it is unpopular,” Lapid added.