Yair Lapid, a former news anchor once widely known for his chiseled good looks, was asked on Wednesday to form a new Israeli government after a failed attempt by veteran prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
When Lapid founded his Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party in 2012, some dismissed him as the latest in a series of media stars seeking to turn his fame into political success.
But Yesh Atid finished second with 17 seats in the March election, Israel’s fourth inconclusive vote in less than two years, and on Wednesday President Reuven Rivlin gave the opposition leader a 28-day term to form a government.
“I will do everything to make sure that an Israeli unity government is formed as soon as possible so that we can work for the people of Israel,” Lapid, 57, said after the announcement.
Rivlin noted that Lapid could seek a deal in which another lawmaker is prime minister first, as part of a compromise rotating coalition.
Lapid is the Tel Aviv-born son of fiercely secular former justice minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, another journalist who quit the media to enter politics.
Her mother, Shulamit, is a novelist, playwright and poet.
Amateur boxer and martial artist who has also published a dozen books, Lapid was a newspaper columnist before becoming a presenter on Channel 2 TV, a role that bolstered his stardom, and he has already been on the lists of Most Desirable Men. from Israel.
– Centrist –
He led a sober campaign for the March elections to position himself as the alternative to Netanyahu, political columnist Yuval Karni wrote in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper in March.
“Lapid with the knife between his teeth has changed,” Karni wrote.
The fiercely secular and centrist Yesh Atid won a surprising 19 seats in Israel’s 120-member parliament in the 2013 polls, establishing Atid as a credible force in politics.
The party joined the centrist Blue and White coalition formed in 2019 under the leadership of former military leader Benny Gantz.
Blue and White then fought Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud in three elections in less than a year.
When Gantz decided last spring to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, citing the need for unity as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated, Lapid fled.
He accused Gantz of breaking a fundamental Blue and White promise to his supporters: to fight to oust Netanyahu.
In an interview with AFP in September, Lapid said Gantz naively believed that Netanyahu would work collaboratively within the coalition.
“I said to (Gantz): ‘I worked with Netanyahu. Why don’t you listen to the voice of experience… He is 71 years old. It’s not going to change, ”Lapid said.
After leaving Blue and White, Lapid took his seat in parliament as the leader of Yesh Atid and leader of the opposition.
He described the short-lived Netanyahu-Gantz unity government as “a ridiculous coalition,” in which cabinet ministers who disliked each other did not bother to communicate.
He also predicted that the coalition would collapse in December, which it did, amid bitter acrimony between Netanyahu and Gantz.
© 2021 AFP