|Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski|
Yair Lapid quits journalism, plunges into politics
By GIL HOFFMAN
Journalist reportedly leaving job as news anchor; bill aims to place cooling-off period for journalists entering politics.
Channel 2 anchorman Yair Lapid ended years of speculation on Sunday when he
announced he would follow in the footsteps of his late father, former Shinui
chairman Yosef Tommy Lapid, and shift careers from journalism to
Lapid officially informed Channel 2’s management of his
decision to leave his post as anchor of the highly rated Friday news magazine
Ulpan Shishi on Sunday after his superiors gave him an ultimatum that he needed
to make a choice about his future as soon as possible.
Yair Lapid would destroy Kadima, poll finds
‘Lapid bill’ likely to pass next month
“I have embarked
on a new path,” Lapid wrote in a message to his supporters on his Facebook wall
that received more than 3,000 “likes” in under two hours. “I am emboldened by
the strength I receive from knowing that I am doing what I believe
in. You are my community, and I receive a lot of strength from
Three polls published in the past month have predicted that a party
led by Lapid could win as many as the 15 Knesset seats won by Shinui in 2003,
and one survey even said it could win 20. But many new parties and politicians
have seen their support erode after their political career shifted from
hypothetical to real.
The polls have shown that a party led by Lapid
would take most of its support away from Kadima, the party whose emergence led
to Shinui’s demise. A Shvakim Panorama poll broadcast on Israel Radio 10 days
ago found that Kadima would fall from its current 28 seats in the Knesset to
only 10 if Lapid entered politics and formed a new party.
But the new
party’s fate could depend on whom Lapid drafts to his Knesset slate. Speculation
has centered on recently resigned Teva CEO Shlomo Yanai, Rabbi Shai Piron of
Oranit, Holon Mayor Moti Sasson, Herzliya Mayor Yael German, former Jerusalem
police chief Mickey Levy, Ma’ariv columnist Ofer Shelah, and the late kidnapped
soldier Ehud Goldwasser’s wife, Karnit.
Lapid is expected to take his
time forming the new party and drafting the candidates list while holding events
around the country to meet and listen to the public.
Channel 2 reported
that a possible name for the party was The Israelis, a name used by a party that
did not cross the electoral threshold in the last election.
his intention to enter politics, Lapid preempted Wednesday’s vote in the Knesset
Law Committee on the so-called “Yair Lapid Bill,” which would institute a
cooling-off period of six months to a year for journalists before they could get
elected. The bill, which passed in preliminary readings in June 2010, will still be brought to a vote,
but it is expected to attract less support now that it cannot delay Lapid’s
“Yair Lapid was a politician wearing a journalist
costume,” said the bill’s sponsor, Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen. “If we
backtrack from legislating the bill we would prove the bill was only intended
for him. But we are trying to establish new norms via legislation and that’s
what I intend to do.”
Lapid has articulated many of his opinions in his
weekly column in Yediot Aharonot and in public addresses he has given. His views
are expected to become the platform of his party.
In a June 2010 speech
in Herzliya, Lapid expressed support for writing a constitution, changing the
electoral system, drafting yeshiva students, requiring haredim (ultra-Orthodox)
to study the core curriculum, transferring a quarter of the defense budget to
education, returning the Golan Heights to Syria, closing Army Radio and limiting
the number of cabinet ministers. He also pushed for a large West Bank
“There is a dispute about whether we should or should not
return territories,” Lapid said. “But the real debate must be about whether the
state can stand up to the settlers, who are just 1.5 percent of the country but
have said they would do everything possible to prevent a withdrawal from taking