Lapid dismisses ‘background noise’ after cited prime minister predicted coalition collapse

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid dismissed reports in a lengthy Facebook post on Friday that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had indicated that he does not expect his current power-sharing government to last until August 2023, when the first become prime minister as part of a rotation. agreement.

“We have a purpose. They will not take us away from him. Not with leaks and slander, not with secret recordings, and not with attempts to [make us] fight, ”Lapid wrote.

“Background noises should be ignored and we should keep pushing ourselves. Never stop and don’t take your eyes off the target, ”he added.

Lapid said he spoke with Bennett, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and other coalition leaders in recent days, telling everyone: “Our test is knowing the difference between what is important and what is not important. They are trying and will keep trying to make us fight. If they are successful, it will primarily harm the citizens of Israel, ”he wrote.

Lapid said that he and his coalition partners “formed this government for the good of the citizens of the State of Israel. That is the goal. We are focused only on that. We have political and security challenges, [and] We are [living through] two years of a pandemic and social division. We are fixing all this now. That is what motivates us. This is our mission. Everything else is just noise. “

The government’s progress on key issues, such as moving the budget forward, “is a thousand times more important than some nonsense someone said in a moment of anger.”

On Thursday, Channel 12 news quoted Bennett as saying that he estimates the rotation deal will not happen. “There is a considerable possibility that the government will dissolve among the [passage of the] budget and the moment of the change of power, for various reasons ”.

Responding to the report, Bennett’s office appeared to confirm the comment, but indicated it was an evaluation and emphasized that Bennett “will fully honor the rotation agreement, as it has been saying from the beginning.

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked shake hands after new coalition wins Knesset approval, June 13, 2021 (Haim Zach / GPO)

The report came amid mounting tensions in the diverse ruling coalition, and a day after the same news outlet quoted Shaked, a close political ally of Bennett, questioning whether the Yamina party will honor the rotation that would see Lapid take over. the post of Prime Minister in 2023..

Public infighting in the coalition, which is made up of right-wing, left-wing and centrist parties as well as an Islamist one, must pass a 2021 budget by November 14, and Bennett and other ministers have warned against swinging the boat. in the run-up to that vote.

If the long overdue budget, it would be the first state budget to be approved in more than three years, does not exceed the deadline, the coalition will automatically dissolve, prompting new elections.

The coalition will need all of its lawmakers on board to pass the budget, which the Knesset Finance Committee approved early Thursday for its final plenary readings.

In recent weeks, coalition lawmakers have expressed growing optimism about their chances of passing a budget, with no one in the narrow 61-seat government being interested in another election, despite various ideological differences. among them.

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