Journalist Yair Lapid appeared to throw his hat into the political ring for the next Knesset election on Tuesday night, when he spoke at a rally of more than 300 supporters at the Herzliya Air Force House that was open to the public but closed to the press.

“We will return the people who have left us,” Lapid said, referring to center-left voters. “We will write a constitution, change the electoral system, and return to you because we cannot do it without you. It is not too late.”

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According to Israel Radio political correspondent Yoav Krakovsky, who broke the story, the 250-seat auditorium was full and a spillover crowd watched Lapid speak on a screen in another room. Lapid also spoke recently to a large group in Netanya and has an event coming up for university students in Beersheba.

Lapid anchors Channel 2’s Friday night news magazine Ulpan Shishi and writes the lead column in Yediot Aharonot’s Friday magazine. But he has given many signs that he intends to follow in the footsteps of his father, the late Shinui leader Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, and leave journalism for politics.

Asked by an audience member why he was holding such an event, he said he was worried about his son and his future. He said he would speak wherever people were willing to listen to him, because he was concerned that there was no “responsible adult” currently in Israeli politics.

“If we look at what happened in the Second Lebanon War and with the Gaza flotilla, we see that we don’t know how to run a war and we don’t know how to run a country,” he said.


Lapid called for drafting yeshiva students, requiring haredim to study the core curriculum, transferring a fourth 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 withdrawal.

“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 place.” Kadima officials have sought to draft Lapid into their party, but he is expected to head a new center-left secularist party.

Kadima MKs downplayed the threat from Lapid on Wednesday.

“I am not among those who are impressed by him,” said Kadima MK Shlomo Molla, who has formed a Knesset caucus for religious pluralism. “Anchoring a TV show and being a good-looking man doesn’t make him a leader. Generals and mayors have proven leadership skills, but I don’t know what his skills are.”

Lapid sent an SMS to Israel Radio in response to the report, saying that he had delivered similar lectures for years and suggesting that the event was no indication that he had made a decision about whether to enter politics.

Channel 2 officially declined to comment, but Second Television Authority chairman Amnon Nadav said the issue would be discussed by the authority’s governing council.

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