Netanyahu to Meet Rogue Ministers Monday

Prime Minister will meet ministers Lapid, Livni to see if the government is still salvageable, or whether elections are imminent.

Hezki Baruch, Gil Ronen ,

Netanyahu and Lapid
Netanyahu and Lapid
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet on Monday with Finance Minister Yair Lapid – who heads Yesh Atid – and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni – who heads Hatnua – after weeks in which they hardly exchanged words, and in which the government appeared to be heading for dissolution.

The meetings are being described as a final effort to see if agreements can be reached to make it possible for the government to continue functioning properly. Livni has torpedoed a series of bills supported by Netanyahu, and Lapid has tried to oust Netanyahu by forming a coalition with hareidi parties.

Netanyahu met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Chairman of Yisrael Beytenu, Sunday, and is to meet Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett Monday, besides Lapid and Livni.

Sources close to Netanyahu made clear Sunday that he “is not willing to accept the continuation of the current situation, in which ministers attack the government that they are a part of as if they were opposition members, as Lapid did this week as well, including his attempts to depose a serving prime minister without elections, as MKs Litzman and Deri testified.”

According to hareidi MKs Aryeh Deri of Shas and Yaakov Litzman of UTJ, Lapid approached the hareidi parties to assess whether they would be willing to form a coalition with him instead of the current government, without holding elections. They refused.

The sources close to Netanyahu also said that Finance Minister Lapid is ignoring his own promise to add billions to the security budget, for advanced weapons systems and training. “Instead of this, the [IDF's] money went to national projects that are supposed to be paid for by the Finance Ministry, like transferring IDF bases to the Negev,” they accused. 

Lapid attacked Netanyahu earlier in the weekend during a cultural event in Tel Aviv. "The dramatic issues - the state budget, international relations, personal security of citizens, the housing issue - are all stuck in place, yet the Prime Minister is standing on the sidelines." 

"Instead, he is dealing with politics, polls and survival," Lapid accused, going on to blame Likud central committee members for convincing the Prime Minister not to accept his budget proposal as well as the 0% VAT law

In an interview with Army Radio earlier Sunday morning, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon also criticized Lapid, responding to allegations he had made about Ya'alon's deteriorating relations with the United States government in Washington. 

"If he has such great concern about the relationship with the US, then why, at a meeting on as subject as important as the new fighter aircraft (F-35), did he vote against the deal, thereby impairing the relationship with the US - this is not how a government representative should behave," Ya'alon said. 

Polls predict that Lapid's party will shrink from 19 to 9 or 10 MKs if elections are held soon, and that Hatnua may disappear completely or shrink to four MKs instead of the current six. And yet, the ideological enmity between Livni ad Lapid on one side, and Netanyahu on the other, is apparently such that Lapid and Livni are willing to risk political doom rather than accept Netanyahu's leadership.