Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Friday that he has no doubt Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid would make a fine successor to him at the helm of Israel’s economy, should he be given the finance portfolio as part of a coalition agreement.
Media reports on Friday indicated that Lapid and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed that Lapid would take the reins of the Finance Ministry, and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett would run the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Lapid and Netanyahu met Friday at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem and both parties said that significant progress had been made towards reaching a coalition deal.
Speaking in an interview on Channel 1, Steinitz said that, as with Lapid, there were doubts about his ability to manage Israel’s economy when he was appointed finance minister in 2009. Israel’s economic performances under his auspices, however, were the best they’ve been in three decades, he said.
Steinitz’s tip of the hat to Lapid is the latest sign that the Yesh Atid leader, who ran his campaign on a platform of fiscal responsibility, would likely assume the finance portfolio in the government Netanyahu is cobbling together.
The coalition negotiation teams were scheduled to reconvene Saturday night, and a government could be announced as soon as Wednesday, Israel Radio reported.
Earlier, Yesh Atid dismissed leaks from Likud sources to the effect that Lapid had been offered, and turned down, the post of finance minister.
“I spoke to Yair Lapid yesterday, and he told me that no one had offered him that portfolio, so he couldn’t have turned it down,” MK Yael German of Yesh Atid told Army Radio. “He heard about the proposal over the airwaves.”