Recent reports have made it clear that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid,whose party won more seats than anyone expected in the January 22nd election, has been playing a bit of hardball with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Today, Netanyahu, charged with forming the next government, sat with Lapid a second time in order to discuss forming a coalition. Lapid’s been going back and forth as to whether he will join the coalition with Netanyahu’s Likud party, or whether he’ll lead the opposition. An insinuation that he’ll head the opposition bloc, however, is that he’ll work to bring the current government down in a year and change’s time so he can then attempt to receive more votes and take the position of Prime Minister. Lapid keeps pushing that he ran to create change, to be a champion for Israel’s middle class, end the double standard for religious and secular communities by drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the military or some sort of national service and creating parity in Israel’s education system, changing the tax system, and other such promising centrist positions that have been sorely missing from the Knesset.
I’d like to take this space to appeal to Lapid, to please work to implement the changes he wants to work for, not to work to become prime minister. As the second largest party (with 19 of 120 seats) elected to the Knesset, he already has a strong foothold to create change. Votes come to those who are effective, not to those who simply work to make the government look bad. Tzipi Livni, of the Tzipi Livni party (officially, the party is called HaTnua, but JPost, at least, appears to have given up on even pretending the party isn’t just one big ego trip), is a prime example of how Israeli voters respond to ineffective politicians. In her last three years in the opposition, instead of using that time to grill the government on its choices of policies or introducing counter arguments or bills, Livni often resorted to ad hominem attacks on Netanyahu’s government. Though the Israeli public is obviously not enamored with the way Netanyahu ran the country, it definitely did not reward Livni. Livni formerly ran Kadima (which tellingly only now has a facebook page and no official website), the party which received JUST enough of the vote to break the threshold and receive 2 seats this election. HaTnuah received six seats, or 4.99% of the vote. This is contrasted with the 22.47%, or 28 seats, she received in the last election in 2009.
If Lapid refuses to join, the next government will likely be a coalition composed of Likud-Beitenu, HaBayit HaYehudi, HaTnuah, Kadima, United Torah Judaism, and Shas, a coalition of 67 seats. Among other things, this set-up would pit HaBayit HaYehudi, openly calling for conscription of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel, and its 12 party members against UTJ and Shas’ 18, two parties opposed to conscription. By refusing to join, Lapid then puts into power parties which will make it difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish one of his main goals, and he will have only himself to blame, as a Likud-Beitenu, Yesh Atid, and HaBayit HaYehudi coalition would already be at 62, more than half of the Knesset’s 120 seats. The parties which would join such a coalition have different and, often, opposing views on education, housing, and economic issues, which Lapid campaigned aggressively on. By creating a political situation in which Netanyahu has to turn to these other parties in order to form a government, Lapid becomes at least partially culpable for putting them into the government. The Israeli public is, if only one thing, politically savvy. Well, maybe stubborn.. But also politically savvy. I don’t think Lapid would be able to wash his hands of the responsibility of allowing Shas into the coalition.
The people of Israel voted Lapid in. Politics is ugly and makes interesting bedmates. However, to be effective, you have to be in control of something. Lapid, swallow the bitter pill that Yesh Atid didn’t get enough votes to become the largest party outright – though, interestingly, since Likud and Yisrael Beitenu combined their lists, the real breakdown is 20 Likud ministers and 11 Yisrael Beitenu ministers, so the election was MUCH closer than the straight numbers reveal – and implement those promises you made. I think it’s clear that the Israeli public will respond to that much better than if you fall into the trap of politicking.
Oh, and one last thing – your English website is full of spelling and grammar errors. I’m a Content Manager. Have your people call my people. Let’s clean that up, since educated Anglos, both secular and religious, make up a goodly portion of your constituents.