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Netanyahu, Lapid both winners in defense budget quarrel

The Israeli prime minister and finance minister's public quarrel over the defense budget is more a political show than a real coalition crisis, as both politicians are benefiting from the rivalry.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid leave after a joint news conference in Jerusalem July 3, 2013. Israel initiated a tender for two new private seaports to operate beside existing government-owned ports in Haifa and Ashdod in a bid to stir up competition and lower the costs of good in Israel. Each new port will cost about $1 billion to build. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX11AV6
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On the night of Sept. 15, the media reported yet another escalation in the conflict between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid regarding the 2015 budget. At the time, Netanyahu was participating in a celebratory toast in honor of the New Year with Likud Party members in the city of Petach Tikva, where he received a very warm welcome. Dramatic headlines screamed that the prime minister had instructed to freeze the authorization process of the "0% VAT bill," the finance minister’s signature plan, until the latter withdrew his opposition to an increase in the defense budget. The news threatened to create a coalition crisis that could snowball into early elections.

However, the prime minister circulated leisurely around the sports hall in Petach Tikva, enjoying the holiday atmosphere. He shook hands with dozens of activists and supporters and basked in applause. His people informed him that none of the Likud’s ministers and Knesset members (except for Moshe Feiglin) attended the competing gathering held at the same time in the city of Ashkelon by Knesset member Danny Danon. Danon had been Netanyahu’s deputy defense minister until he was fired in July after becoming Netanyahu’s in-house opposition.

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