Likud minister: ‘Unnatural’ for Lapid to demand top diplomat role

Gilad Erdan says Finance Ministry is better fit for Yesh Atid chief, and that Likud wants Kadima in next coalition

Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90/File)
Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90/File)

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said Thursday and Friday that it was “unnatural” for Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid to demand the foreign ministership after his party’s surprise second-place finish in the Knesset elections earlier in the week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly offered Lapid the choice of serving as either finance or foreign minister in the next government on Thursday, when the two held a lengthy face-to-face meeting.

According to Erdan, who spoke on Thursday with Channel 2 and on Friday with Israel Radio, the Finance Ministry is a better fit for Lapid, since he campaigned on a platform of domestic and largely socioeconomic issues.

Referring to Lapid’s campaign and its focus on the middle class, universal military service and the high cost of living in Israel, the environmental protection minister said, “At the Finance Ministry, [Lapid] will be able to have influence over these issues.” Former foreign minister and Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman made similar comments on Wednesday, intimating that Lapid might more naturally gravitate to the Treasury.

Erdan also told Israel Radio on Friday that Netanyahu’s Likud party was interested in having Kadima join a coalition government. Kadima, the largest party in the outgoing 18th Knesset, made it past the electoral threshold by the skin of its teeth, garnering just two seats in the incoming Knesset.

Erdan clarified that Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan University, in June 2009, where the prime minister came out in support of a two-state solution, was still valid.

Commenting on the opposition to a two-state solution from Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, which ended up with 12 Knesset seats after the final votes were tallied Thursday, the Likud minister said it was the prime minister who directs foreign policy, and that whoever has a problem with that should not join Netanyahu’s coalition.

Incoming Jewish Home MK Uri Orbach reiterated to Israel Radio on Friday that his party opposes a two-state solution, but that despite their differences, his party wants to partner with the Likud in the next coalition.

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