Yuval Steinitz and Yair Lapid went into full-throttle campaign mode on Saturday, slinging insults at their opponents in the upcoming Israeli elections in January.
Speaking at a cultural event in Holon, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz launched into a scathing critique of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
“Sometimes [Barak] gives off the impression that he’s not just the defense minister, but also prime minister, foreign minister, finance minister and defense minister, and maybe also the president of the United States or the defense secretary of the United States,” said Steinitz.
“So I wish for the defense minister that he will soon have lots and lots of time to rest from all of these positions,” he added.
Barak did not respond to Steinitz’s comments.
Barak and Steinitz have locked horns in the past over budget allocations to the Defense Ministry. In a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month, Steinitz reportedly chided Barak for wanting to secure a spot on Netanyahu’s Likud party list.
At another cultural event in Kiryat Motzkin near Haifa, Lapid, the former TV anchorman-turned-politician, made clear in an apparent message to former prime minister Ehud Olmert that he would head his Yesh Atid party list in any given scenario.
Lapid had said Thursday that a new centrist “super party,” bringing together Olmert, former Kadima chair Tzipi Livni and himself was “not going to happen.” He made the comments after a Haaretz poll Thursday morning showed that such a grouping would win 25 seats in the January 22 elections, surpassing the Likud’s 24 projected seats.
Commenting Saturday on convicted felon Aryeh Deri’s return to the leadership of the Shas party — as part of a power-sharing triad including Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias — Lapid said it was legal but unethical.
“Aryeh Deri was not convicted of a traffic violation,” the Yesh Atid founder added. “Aryeh Deri was convicted of taking bribes while serving in a senior position.”
Responding to question regarding the possibility that he’d have to serve in a coalition with Aryeh Deri, Lapid said, “We will sit with whomever necessary in any coalition that will change the system.”
Asher Zeiger contributed to this report.