Lapid: I'll Quit the Government if Taxes Are Raised
Finance Minister Yair Lapid declared on Wednesday that he would quit the government should taxes be raised following Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
"Israeli citizens will not be required to pay more taxes following Operation Protective Edge,” Lapid told Channel 2 News, adding, “I will not sit in a government that once again reaches into the pockets of the citizens of Israel when there's no real need for it."
Lapid continued, "It makes no sense that once again we will raise taxes on the citizens of Israel. I put together the previous budget. It was a very difficult budget. It wasn’t done because I enjoyed it. It was done so if we reach a moment like Protective Edge, we will have a strong economy that will help us get through it.”
"I'm a finance minister, I know the numbers, there is no reason or need to go one more time and take money out of the pockets of the citizens of Israel," he said.
Lapid’s comments come three days after the government ratified an across-the-board 2% cut in the budgets of all state ministries to pay for Operation Protective Edge.
Two ministers – Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Environment Minister Amir Peretz – voted against the cuts. Abstaining were Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Elderly Affairs Minister Uri Orbach, and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom.
The 2% cut amounts to a NIS 1.9 billion reduction in ministry budgets, but further cuts should be expected, because the Defense Ministry's budget is likely to be increased.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday that the direct cost of the 50-day military offensive in the Gaza was more than $2.5 billion (1.9 billion euros).
"The expenditure on Operation Protective Edge - military expenditure, the direct expenditure - is more than nine billion shekels," Yaalon told an economic conference in Tel Aviv.
"We attacked over than 6,000 targets, more than 5,000 of them by the air force, about 900 from land and sea," he said referring to tank, artillery and naval fire.