(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Yesh Atid will not join a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under any circumstances, party chairman Yair Lapid said in a briefing to Knesset reporters Monday.
Even if UTJ leader Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman agrees to sit around the same cabinet table, Lapid said he won’t join the government, and predicted that the coalition will fall apart sometime in 2016.
“Yesh Atid will run for the leadership of the country and I will run for prime minister,” Lapid stated.
As for other possible candidates for prime minister, he said the Left “is not capable of winning an election. They won’t win for at least another 30 years.”
Lapid deflected and denied claims that he is turning rightward and to religion to attract new voters, but also said “the Left doesn’t understand the importance of God in the Israeli public discourse, and Yesh Atid does. I believe in God and I think most of our MKs do, too.”
A Zionist Union spokesman responded: “On the day after Tisha Be’Av [when Jews mark the anniversary of the destruction of the Holy Temple], someone should tell Lapid that since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy was only given to fools.”
The Yesh Atid chairman posited that his party is solidly centrist, and pointed to himself as someone who came from a nationalist home and MK Shai Piron, a rabbi who lives in a settlement, as MKs who pull the party more to the Right, whereas MKs like Yael German and Yaakov Peri – who Lapid called “Yankeleh” – as pulling it to the left.
“Yesh Atid is a Jewish, religious-secular party,” he stated. “Our DNA is center – both Left and Right. The difference between center-left and center-right is more emotional and hereditary than having to do with what people think about the Palestinians.”
As for the possibility of uniting with the other faction in the Knesset that calls itself centrist, Kulanu, or any other party, Lapid said such talk is irrelevant as long as an election is not near.
Lapid also talked about the politician once known as his “brother,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett, expressing disappointment that Bayit Yehudi remained a sectorial party for religious-Zionists as opposed to a bridge between parts of Israeli society.
“Bayit Yehudi chose settlements over Judaism,” he stated. “In my eyes, that is a betrayal of the legacy of Rabbi [Avraham HaCohen] Kook.”
Bayit Yehudi’s spokeswoman said the party is happy for anyone who is getting closer to Judaism, including Lapid, “whatever his reasons may be.”