Lapid Vows to Quit Government if Taxes Rise

But says he wants to stay, saying 'people need quiet after long military campaign.'

Emil Salman

Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Thursday he doesn’t want to break up the coalition, but will do so if the government decides to raise taxes.

After noting that the summer’s war in Gaza would require some increase in defense spending, Lapid told the Yesh Atid Knesset faction, “But we also need education, health and welfare, and to give Israel’s citizens some relief from their government. We aren’t willing to exploit that cash cow known as the Israeli taxpayer. We won’t raise taxes. These are our red lines.”

Nevertheless, he added, he doesn’t want to dismantle the coalition. “We aren’t looking for a crisis,” Lapid said. “Elections aren’t a good thing. The political situation of the last 24 hours imposes an obligation of responsibility and stability on us for the sake of all the people who need quiet after a prolonged military campaign.”

Lapid said he regretted Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s decision to resign from the cabinet and Knesset, which Sa’ar announced on Wednesday. Terming the Likud minister “one of the best ministers in the cabinet and one of the most successful legislators,” he added, “I respect his decision, but I regret it. Politics needs good people. I admit I also hope he will return.”

Regarding a recent public letter sent by soldiers who complained that they were living in poverty, Lapid said he found it “heartbreaking.”

“Israel Defense Forces soldiers are saying, ‘We have nothing to eat and nothing to bring to our families’ holiday table.’ We’re conducting a lengthy discussion of the defense budget. We’ll deal with issues one by one, and with the [budget] as a whole. There cannot be a situation in which a person fights to defend Israel, but when he returns home for Shabbat, he goes hungry.”

Lapid said that upon entering the Finance Ministry, he inherited an economy on the brink of crisis. “We had to fix the enormous budgetary hole,” he said. “Today, the situation is different. Our work succeeded: The economy has a reasonable deficit, there is economic and social strength.”