Lapid tells Netanyahu to ‘focus on the war,’ stop trying to deflect blame

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Illustrative: Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 26, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Illustrative: Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 26, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid warns Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “focus on the war” and the economy, rather than questions of blame for Israel’s failure to prevent the October 7 massacre.

Netanyahu has refused to join a list of senior Israeli officials who have publicly taken responsibility for failures leading up to October 7, and on Sunday reiterated to CNN that such questions should be put off until a post-war inquest.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to stop trying to deflect responsibility from himself. If he wants us to not deal now with the question of who is to blame, let him not sit on CNN and compare himself to [American wartime President Franklin] Roosevelt,” Lapid says.

“Roosevelt did not deliver suitcases of money to [Japanese] General Yamamoto and did not strengthen the Japanese for 13 years through erroneous and failed policies that led to disaster,” Lapid continues, speaking from his party’s Knesset conference room, alongside photos of some of the 239 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

Netanyahu had compared himself to Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor when asked in an interview if he would resign in the wake of the failure to stop the assault.

Referring to his own party members, Lapid says “the people sitting around the table here are doing the government’s job. They went to funerals and to shivas [seven-day mourning periods], and they were with the evacuees and the families of the abductees, and they helped deal with bureaucratic problems and they defended Israel in the international media.”

He accuses the government, in contrast, of not freeing up funds that could be used by the war effort.

Lapid calls out Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, in particular, for advancing “sectoral” interests.

“In the middle of the war, he is transferring hundreds of millions [of shekels] to his voters in Judea and Samaria,” he said, using the Biblical term for the West Bank.

In addition, Lapid says that Smotrich is readying to transfer NIS 1.3 billion to ultra-Orthodox institutions that fail to teach core curriculum studies.

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