(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In the shadow of police investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said that he will not join an alternative government if the prime minister steps down.
In a meeting with Knesset reporters on Wednesday, Lapid said although he is not required to do so by law, Netanyahu should resign if he is indicted.
“If anything leads to the dismantling of this current government, it is only fair to the Israeli people to hold a new election,” he said. “I will not cooperate with any other action. It will be an anti-democratic political stunt to form a new government.” Lapid added that he believes that the next election will take place this year.
Lapid also dismissed speculation about the possibility that Yesh Atid will join a larger “center bloc” with other parties, such as Labor, and he explained why voters are leaving the center-left and center- right parties to join him.
“Officially, our policy is not that far from both the Likud and Labor,” Lapid said.
“But we see that people are distancing themselves from them. Some Likud voters do not want to be identified with things such as the ‘muezzin bill’ because they care about their neighbors [the Arab citizens]. They also want to distance themselves from corruption [a reference to Netanyahu’s investigations].
The muezzin bill in its original form would have outlawed outdoor loudspeakers being used by houses of worship, but has been amended to ban that practice at night.
“We’ve seen in recent polls that more and more voters from Left and Right are joining Yesh Atid,” Lapid said.
“But we will not run in a joint list with any other party.”
However, he added that if he is elected to form a government, his first phone call to optional coalition partners will be to the Likud and Labor parties.
Addressing the content of recent revelations in Case 1000 – the so-called gifts affair in which Netanyahu is being investigated – Lapid said that he does not receive gifts.
“As a public servant you should not take gifts. The only thing I got since I took office is a book on my birthday,” he said.
Lapid said he has confidence in Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit regarding his conduct of the investigations.
“I believe in Avichai’s integrity. If he sees a problem, he will say so,” he said.