'Politics of Threats' Between Likud and Yesh Atid

Coalition Chairman Levin warns he won't advance Lapid's 0% VAT Bill until Yesh Atid yields on state budget, as tensions continue to build.

Ido Ben-Porat, Ari Yashar,

Yariv Levin
Yariv Levin
Flash 90

Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) stated on Tuesday that he will not advanced Finance Minister Yair Lapid's (Yesh Atid) 0% VAT Bill until an agreement is reached on the 2015 state budget.

Lapid has been at odds with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the budget; Netanyahu on Monday called for an increase of "many billions" of shekels in defense spending following Operation Protective Edge, while Lapid has downplayed the expense of the operation and pushed for a modest defense budget.

The tensions led Netanyahu on Monday to suspend discussions over Lapid's controversial 0% VAT Bill that is opposed by hareidi and Arab parties, in a not-so-subtle move to pressure Lapid into greater flexibility.

Levin stated on Tuesday "we must pass a responsible (state) budget and not disconnect the 0% VAT Bill from the whole (of the budget). I won't gather the Knesset committee to continue discussions on the bill until the needed coalition agreements are reached."

The Coalition chairman called on Yesh Atid to act responsibly, "instead of conducting politics through threats that already don't frighten anybody."

Levin's statements come after Yesh Atid reacted to the suspension of discussion on the new bill - a suspension made by Levin and Netanyahu - by warning of a coalition crisis. The party has previously threatened to bolt the coalition over raised taxes.

Just two weeks ago Levin warned that there may be a coalition change in the near future, by which he projected the hareidi parties may be approached to join, and "childish" Lapid would be left out.




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