Lapid hires strategists to sustain support

Yair Lapid’s team will include Uri Shani, former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s bureau chief and Washington-based Democratic strategist Mark Mellman.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 10, 2012 00:34
2 minute read.
Yair Lapid

Yair Lapid 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Yair Lapid has started building a team of strategists in an effort to translate the strong support he has received in polls into results in the next election, sources close to him revealed on Monday.

Lapid’s team will include Uri Shani, former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s bureau chief; advertising executive Yoram Bauman; and Washington-based Democratic strategist Mark Mellman.

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Polls taken since Lapid announced his intention to enter politics have produced mixed results, predicting he will win anywhere from seven to 20 seats in the next Knesset.

Regardless of which survey is correct, the strategists will try to help Lapid maintain his support and prevent his potential voters from returning to Kadima and other parties.

Kadima leaders expressed hope that by the time the next election is held, Lapid’s support would erode.

“The election won’t take place for a year,” Kadima council chairman Haim Ramon predicted.

“Over time, the situation changes. Kadima has been eulogized before. Centrist voters know they have to decide who the next prime minister will be. It’s either Tzipi [Kadima leader Tzipi Livni] or Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu].”

Livni’s political foe, MK Avi Dichter, criticized her on Monday for not addressing the Lapid issue in the Kadima faction’s weekly meeting.

“A journalist or two entering politics won’t dictate to Kadima its agenda,” she said.

Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog expressed confidence that Lapid would harm Kadima and not Labor.

“When people see Kadima breaking up, the voters will go home to Labor,” he said.

“People will ask themselves whether they learned lessons about not supporting fashionable parties like Kadima, the Center Party and the Third Way.”

Likud minister Michael Eitan expressed concern that Lapid could take support away from his party if it continued with controversial legislation that might scare away liberal voters. He warned that any votes Lapid took from the Likud could make it harder for Netanyahu to form the next government.

Shas head Eli Yishai told his faction he was concerned Lapid could start a wave of anti-haredi (ultra-Orthodox) politics.

“Unfortunately, from term to term the competition between older and newer parties over who will attack Jewish tradition and draft bills attacking Judaism only increases,” Yishai said. “But parties that do this tend to disappear. I think that in the end, no one will benefit from this because the people of Israel want unity.”


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