Netanyahu vs. Expulsion, But Not at Expense of Cabinet Position

"I will remain in my position, and will continue to struggle for the economic goals that I have set in the frameworks of the reforms that I have enacted," the Finance Minister said today.

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"I have no intention of leaving the government, and I will not leave the government," the Finance Minister said today. "My views [against the disengagement] are clear, but I will fight for them from within the government."

"One thing is clear," Netanyahu said. "The disengagement will cost us between 8 and 10 billion shekels (roughly $2 billion). This is a huge sum that could have been used for the elderly, incapacitated, ill, medicine subsidies, working mothers, and the war against violence and traffic accidents."

Speaking at the Ceasaria Conference this morning, the former Prime Minister said that he is currently leading a process of major reforms "with the goal of competition between banks and a decrease in taxation." He said that for him to leave the government at this stage would "cut off the process at its height."

Netanyahu rebuffed claims that not carrying out the expulsion/retreat would cost billions. "When the Oslo process started, similar claims were made," he said, "but I said then that the terrorism brought on by Oslo would cost the economy billions - and looking back, I was right."

"Today, again, we have a retreat under fire and with nothing received in return, and it will turn Gaza into a terror state of Hamas. This is liable to cost us dearly, in more ways than one."

Estimates of the costs of the disengagement/expulsion have gone steadily up. It was originally thought to cost two billion shekels, then rose to seven billion, and is now thought to be nearing up to ten billion shekels.