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Lapid Says Hareidim, Arabs Should Enlist if They Want Benefits

Finance Minister defends VAT discount for young couples, says state willing to sacrifice for citizens who serve the nation.
By Ido Ben-Porat, Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 3/26/2014, 3:30 PM

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Flash 90

Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) spoke Wednesday at the "Building together the future of housing in Israel" conference and defended the government housing programs - including the push to enact a full VAT discount for young couples and rent control for new apartments. 

Noting resistance to the plan, Lapid hinted that the plan's opponents are the ones who are really responsible for price increases in the housing market.

"The VAT cut is not geared towards economists, politicians and special interests, but middle-class young people serving in the military, trying to establish a family - no matter what kind, LGBT, single parents - and these young people now know that the state cares about them and is really willing to lose money over it by bringing down housing prices," Lapid stated. 

Minister Lapid quoted former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who said "the state is not its politicians and not people who buy five apartments in one morning."

"Young people are the center and focus - they were during the social protests and they were during the elections," Lapid added. "So we have created a program that lowers the price, even if it's by force." 

The Finance Minister also referred to the protests against the bill by hareidi and Arab communities, who claim that the move discriminates against them - since most hareidi and Arab Israelis do not serve in the military - and ultimately will fall in the High Court of Justice. 

"All young people need to do to gain the benefits in question, is to join the army or civilian service as any other Israeli citizen their age," Lapid said. "Military or civilian service in this country is a value - and if necessary, we will also go to the High Court to defend our value system."  

"It's time we stop being afraid to fight for them [our values]," he declared.