At Political-security Cabinet Meet, Lapid Flexes Muscles at Steinitz's Expense

Finance minister asked prime minister to remove Yuval Steinitz from the discussion, which included political and defense issues, Channel 2 reports.

An embarrassing political tit-for-tat involving Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took place at the political-security cabinet meeting on Saturday night, Channel 2 news reported Tuesday.

According to Channel 2 political pundit Amnon Abramovich, Lapid demanded that Netanyahu ask Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz to leave the meeting, claiming he was not a member of the cabinet. Netanyahu acceded to the demand and asked Steinitz to step out.

Steinitz, who served as finance minister in the previous government, was invited to the session because it was supposed to deal with the defense budget. However, due to Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement about the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the meeting also included a discussion of political matters.

According to the Channel 2 report, Lapid pointed out to Netanyahu that they have an agreement: When the prime minister wants Steinitz to sit in on such political discussions, Lapid is entitled to have Yesh Atid colleague Jacob Perry there as well. Lapid told Netanyahu that because Perry had not been invited to the session, he would like the prime minister to honor their agreement and ask Steinitz to step out.

Steinitz refused to leave and had some harsh words for Lapid, but then Netanyahu intervened and asked Steinitz to leave. The prime minister told the strategic affairs minister that when the debate on the defense budget resumed he would be called back in. Steinitz was reportedly insulted but left the room.