Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid may insist he is not following in the footsteps of
his father, the late secularist justice minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, but he
took a page out of the elder Lapid’s book on Wednesday, making it nearly
impossible for him to join a coalition with Shas.
Lapid presented his
“ironclad rule” for joining any coalition: equality in the burden of national
“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu had a historic opportunity
to enlist the ultra-Orthodox and bring them into the workforce and leave a real
mark on Israeli society, but at the last minute was afraid and ran away,” Lapid
said at a press conference in Tel Aviv.
“He prefers to do nothing, so
someone has to force him.”
According to Lapid, no one will be able to
procrastinate on the issue if his party is in the next coalition.
won’t be another committee, no vague wording in the coalition agreement, no one
will sell us stories that it’ll be discussed after we enter the government,” he
“Don’t tell us it’s complicated. It’s not
complicated. Everyone has to enlist in military or civilian service, and
everyone has to study the core curriculum and everyone has to work,” Lapid said.
“And don’t say that what I’m saying is antiharedi; it isn’t. I don’t want
anything for them that I don’t want for my children or myself.”
week, Lapid said several times that his party will not be the “fig leaf in a right-wing haredi extremist government,” and that Yesh
Atid will only join the coalition together with another centrist
Following Lapid’s latest announcement, whoever forms the next
government will essentially have to choose between Yesh Atid, and Shas and
United Torah Judaism.
Shas and UTJ declined to comment on Lapid’s implied
Lapid has also said in the past that he won’t join a coalition
if Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman is defense minister, if talks with
the Palestinians are not resumed or if no housing reform is enacted.
Yesh Atid head did not spare criticism of his opponents on Wednesday, attacking
party leaders for not taking a strong enough stance on the issue of haredi
Lapid called on Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich to “stop
avoiding the subject and stop saying it isn’t important.
What is more
important than equality under law and how Israeli society will look?” He also
attacked Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, as someone who “says ‘equality
in the burden’ out loud to the secular public, and then runs and whispers in
haredi rabbis’ ears that they shouldn’t worry, he only meant those who don’t
In a statement similar to Lapid’s, former foreign minister
Tzipi Livni said on Wednesday that her newly formed Tzipi Livni Party will not
sit in “a government of right-wing extremists and haredim.”
“I am here to
fight for Israel’s character, to fight for a diplomatic agreement and to prevent
turning Israel to a halachic state, to fight for equality in the burden,” Livni
said, adding that she will not be “the fig leaf of an extremist
“I offered to form a bloc of over 40 seats [The Tzipi Livni
Party together with Labor and Yesh Atid]. If we go to the opposition, Netanyahu
will form a shaky, extremist government,” she continued.
her plan to refuse to join the coalition Netanyahu is expected to form after the
January 22 election, forcing him into a national emergency government in which
she, Lapid and Yacimovich will be able to promote their
Unfortunately, she added, the other Center- Left party leaders
refused her offer.
“Lapid tried to say there’s no such thing as a bloc,
as if he founded a sectorial party, and Yacimovich decided she’s in the
opposition no matter what,” Livni said at a conference at Ono Academic College
in Kiryat Ono. “I want to see them as part of a partnership that can replace
Netanyahu. It isn’t personal.”
Boaz Nol, leader of the Camp Sucker
protest movement, pointed out that Lapid’s plan for haredi enlistment would
allow the ultra-Orthodox five more years without enlisting so they can enter the
“Lapid promises equality, but gives an exemption for five
years. He could be Netanyahu’s next sucker in the coalition, as [Kadima chairman
Shaul] Mofaz was,” Nol said. “If he really wants equality, he’ll accept Livni’s
initiative for a joint front against Netanyahu and the extremists.” •