Yair Lapid, the centrist politician and former media celebrity whose party came second in Israel’s March elections, had vowed to turn down the prime minister’s post if that was the price to pay for forming a coalition that could alienate the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power.
This unusual display of political humility was not due to modesty, but to the difficulties Lapid knew he would face in garnering sufficient parliamentary support for the formation of a government.
Now, after Netanyahu fails to form a viable coalition before Tuesday’s midnight deadline, Lapid’s sincerity and political skills will be put to the test. President Reuven Rivlin told him about the next attempt to form a government that could put Netanyahu in opposition and end Israel’s political stalemate.
Lapid’s party, Yesh Atid, won 17 seats in the election, the fourth held in the country in two years. But his path to power faces challenges due to the disparate nature of the anti-Netanyahu bloc, made up of many small parties with divergent agendas. Some of his right-wing elements see Lapid as too left-wing to command an alternative government.
Netanyahu called his campaign a direct confrontation with Lapid, whom he dismissed as a lightweight. Lapid, for his part, has waged a quiet campaign, defending the preservation of liberal democracy and seeking to thwart Netanyahu’s stated goal of forming a government made up of right-wing and religious parties, dependent on ultra-Orthodox rabbis and ultra-nationalist extremists.
Lapid also argued that the judiciary should be protected from Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption and who, along with his legal and religious allies, intended to limit the powers of the Supreme Court and possibly seek some form of corruption. judicial immunity.
To party activists ahead of the election, Lapid described the coalition Netanyahu wanted to form as “an extremist, homophobic, chauvinistic, racist and anti-democratic government.” “This is a government in which no one represents the workers, the people who pay taxes and believe in the rule of law.”
When he was finance minister in the government formed by Netanyahu in 2013, Lapid instituted reforms aimed at more evenly distributing national burdens between the majority of Israelis and ultra-Orthodox who choose to study Torah full-time instead. to work and to serve. therefore depends on charity and government assistance for their livelihood.
Most of its policies were overturned by subsequent governments.
Yesh Atid participated in three elections held in 2019 and 2020 as part of a centrist tripartite alliance called Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz, former army chief of staff.
Lapid distanced himself from the coalition when Gantz backed down on one of his main election promises and teamed up with Netanyahu after last year’s election to form an insecure and short-lived unity government.
After a highly successful career as a popular journalist and television presenter, Lapid was a surprise in the 2013 election when, as a political novice, his party exceeded expectations and was a finalist, making him the main influence in the formation of the coalition.
His father, Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor and anti-religious politician, also led a centrist party and served as justice minister. Her mother, Shulamit Yapid, is a well-known novelist.
An amateur boxer and known for dressing in black, in a casual chic style, Yair Lapid entered politics following the 2011 social justice protests, giving a voice to the Israeli middle class.
With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it takes an intermediate position, occupying secure positions that do not escape the Jewish-Israeli consensus. Lapid has already said he is in favor of the two-state solution, but he is against any division of Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as their future capital.