Former journalist Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party will win 22 mandates in the next general election, Lapid predicted at its first major national campaign event, a pre-Rosh Hashana toast at Kibbutz Shefayim on Wednesday.

Hundreds of activists attended the event in which Israeli-style felafel was served.

Public figures rumored to be running for Knesset with Yesh Atid who attended included Herzliya Mayor Yael German, former Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy, and former Health Ministry director- general Eitan Chai-Am.

Lapid explained his 22-seat prediction by noting the large numbers of undecided centrist voters, young people eligible to vote for the first time, and volunteers working to raise awareness of the party. Some 12,000 volunteers have organized into 80 local campaigns in as many communities across the country.

“Yesh Atid is like a submarine right now,” Lapid said.

“Above the water there is only a periscope. I am that periscope, interviewing and speaking at rallies. But under the surface of the sea there is a large body that is always growing and that no one knows exists. We will raise it to the surface at the right moment.”

Lapid vowed to fight for middle-class Israelis who serve in the army.

He did not address diplomatic or security issues at the event, but earlier on Wednesday he criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s handling of Israel’s relationship with Washington.

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