Lapid Downplays Coalition Crisis

YERUSHALAYIM -

Finance Minister Yair Lapid casually brushed aside on Tuesday reports that a showdown between him and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the budget was imperiling the coalition.

Lapid downplayed it as no more than the usual budgetary hassle, telling reporters that “it does not seem to me to be very different from the kind of conduct we’ve seen before every budget passing.”

He went so far as to say on Army Radio on Monday morning that “there was no conflict” with Netanyahu and that the media had exaggerated tensions between them.

“I’ve been through a hard budget already with all of the pressures it involved. There are always pressures being put on the finance minister,” he said.

Lapid sidestepped a reporter’s question following his statement that the government would come apart if it didn’t support his VAT bill, as called for by coalition agreements, if that meant he would leave the coalition. Lapid replied only that any government that doesn’t live up to it’s agreements “would fall apart by itself.”

However, he expressed confidence that the government would back him, noting that “the prime minister has not said anything publicly about freezing 0% VAT,” and that he has voted for it at previous stages.