Finance Minister Yair Lapid disrupted a meeting convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday over increased settlement funding, saying it was already harming Israel's relationship with the United States, sources in Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party said.
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Lapid, chairman of Yesh Atid, is said to have told the prime minister that he opposes investing funds in isolated settlements and is also against advancing such a procedure during the current period when there is already a crisis in Israel’s relations with the United States and the European Union.
The meeting was also attended by cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Transportation Secretary Yisrael Katz and Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel.
The meeting agenda included approval for the paving of 12 roads in the vicinity of West Bank settlements, including locations beyond the major settlement blocs, as well as investment in electricity and water infrastructure. The cost of the proposed work could run into the hundreds of millions of shekels.
About 20 minutes into the meeting, Lapid asked to speak. “I cannot lend a hand to a process that will transfer funds that should go to Kiryat Shmona and Be’er Sheva,” referring to cities in Israel proper, and instead go “for the paving of roads in isolated settlements such as Tapuah and Yitzhar,” Lapid said. “At this time, it’s causing harm to Israel. I support construction in Jerusalem, our capital city, and am also in favor of upgrading the infrastructure in the settlement blocs in the context of natural [population] growth, but everything has its time.”
After he finished speaking, Lapid left the meeting, which resulted in it being adjourned a few minutes later.