Lieberman Takes Swipe at Lapid

YERUSHALAYIM -

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman took a swipe at ambitious freshman politician Yair Lapid on Tuesday, accusing Lapid of letting success go to his head.

Though he did not mention the Yesh Atid leader by name, no one familiar with the latter’s recent pronouncement about being the next prime minister could mistake who he was referring to.

At the opening of Tuesday’s Likud-Beiteinu faction meeting, Lieberman said that he had never seen the phenomenon of someone already saying they want to be prime minister when they “haven’t even warmed up their chair as an MK yet.”

“I’ve never seen this happen. Days after the election, instead of talking about what can be done to help the country, about the middle class, or asking ‘where is the money?’ (Lapid’s election campaign slogan) a person only talks about how they want to be prime minister,” Lieberman remarked.

Likud-Beiteinu officials reportedly feel that Lapid’s demands are out of line. He is reportedly seeking to be foreign minister, and wants his party to have the Education, Justice, and Construction and Housing portfolios, as well chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee. At the same time, he is demanding that the government consist of only 18 ministers, compared to the current 29, minimizing the amount of portfolios for the Likud and other potential coalition partners.

The party is also making it extremely difficult for Likud-Beitenu by insisting on a full draft of everyone at the age of 18.

Likud sources said Monday that in the face of Lapid’s “unrealistic” demands, they were stepping up overtures to Tzipi Livni, even though her party has only six MKs, compared to Lapid’s 19.

Netanyahu addressed the faction prior to Lieberman, saying that Israel needs a broad national unity government because Israel’s enemies “don’t rest for a moment.”

A Likud MK told The Jerusalem Post that Lapid might sing a different tune after “a year of drought in the desert of the opposition.”

In that event, Likud sources said, a likely scenario would be a 69-MK coalition with Jewish Home, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Tzipi Livni’s Movement party and Kadima.