Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett may be ministerial colleagues, but their growing mutual dislike is becoming increasingly overt.
At an event in the central Israeli town of Petah Tikva Thursday, Bennett, who heads the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, critiqued the internal workings of the centrist Yesh Atid, and particularly its chairman Lapid.
“Jewish Home is a diverse party comprising many attitudes — and not a dictatorship like Yesh Atid or [Avigdor Liberman’s] Yisrael Beytenu,” he said in a recording of the event, leaked Sunday to Army Radio. “It is no secret that these parties lack primary elections… Lapid is a dictator.”
Under the terms of the Yesh Atid party, there are no primary elections to establish its Knesset list; elections to determine the party chairmanship, currently held by Lapid, will not be held until 2020.
The Jewish Home party is not purely democratic either, as its party list was based on a joint list of two parties, one of which is determined by a selection committee.
Lapid and Bennett, whose parties forged a partnership after last January’s elections and negotiated together about entering Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, have been increasingly locking horns, most recently over a controversial bill that would extend to gay male couples child benefits that have thus far been reserved for mothers. The bill, which eventually passed its first reading, was originally vetoed by the Jewish Home party in December.
Bennett also denounced Lapid’s support last week for removing chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef after they ruled that Orthodox women should not serve in the IDF, calling his statements disrespectful.
The spat between Jewish Home and Yesh Atid comes with the relationship between Lapid and Netanyahu at a nadir over the identity of the next chairman of the influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. With both men refusing to budge on their nominees — Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi and Ofer Shelah of Yesh Atid — communication between the two has broken down.