Finance Minister Yair Lapid
Finance Minister Yair LapidHadas Parush/Flash 90

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, sought to calm tensions on Sunday, amid reports that the tensions in the coalition are great and that elections are imminent.

"I never threatened to leave the government, so this threat is not serious," Lapid told Channel 10 News, adding, “People with interests, members of central committees of parties” are stirring up trouble and trying to block the state budget from passing in the Knesset.

"We submitted to the government a budget, perhaps the most social budget we’ve had here in years,” he continued. “Additional budgets to health, education, welfare, Holocaust survivors. Now the government needs to pass it. I see no reason for threats or to dissolve the government.”

Referring to the possibility of imminent elections, Lapid clarified, "I do not deal with threats and ultimatums. I do not think that there is one Israeli who wants to go to elections, what's it good for? I think this is a very bad idea.”

At the same time, Lapid emphasized that he would not agree “to transfer one billion shekels here and one billion shekels there and then have to cut from welfare, education or health. It will not happen.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Lapid had several disagreements, most recently revolving the 2015 state budget and Lapid’s 0% VAT law, which Netanyahu has tried to shelve.

Those tensions flared again several days ago, when Channel 2 published a report saying that Lapid had been attempting to assemble his own coalition - possibly due to frustrations over the languishing 0% VAT law. 

The tensions in the coalitions do not end there, however, as a new crisis now appears to be brewing over the Jewish State bill. Right-wing coalition members were furious Sunday at both Hatnua and Yesh Atid for opposing the bill, in what they claim is a flagrant breach of previous coalition agreements.

In his interview, Lapid referred to the bill, which Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was able to remove from discussion at the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.

"I am against this particular law, and in this version," he said. “At this explosive moment, when we are already experiencing riots and wars, when rocks are thrown in Jerusalem, is this the right moment to discuss this law? Why?”

Referring to many polls that have predicted a crash for his party, especially in light of former Minister Moshe Kahlon’s plans to form a new party, Lapid said, “I'm willing to take a polygraph test to prove that I'm happy about Kahlon’s return to politics. He's a good man, a man who cares. It’s good to have people like that in politics, I have no problem with that.”