Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid at the Knesset.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid visited the Derech Avot High School in Efrat Sunday to speak to students about the lessons of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin 20 years ago.
Lapid spoke to the students about the need to listen to those with different beliefs and to accept that no sector in society will achieve all its goals. The visit also enabled him to be photographed visiting Gush Etzion and showing solidarity with its residents under fire shortly after a terrorist attack in the region.
The visit was seen as part of an effort by Lapid to use the current wave of Arab violence to help him create and present the centrist ideology that he believes a majority of citizens share and could help him in the next election.
“We need the ability to create a Center of people who say they don’t want to be extreme Right, and they don’t want to be extreme Left, who want to be able to talk to each other and rebuild the State of Israel,” Lapid told The Jerusalem Post at the school.
Lapid wrote his nearly 400,000 followers on Facebook a letter Sunday in which he tried to define the role of the Center during the current wave of terrorism. He said the Center believes in taking every necessary step to defend citizens but not “lynching” an unconscious man, even if he is a terrorist.
“It is true that the Palestinians – 3.5 million Muslims stuck like a bone in our throat – are not a partner but an enemy,” Lapid wrote. “But it is also true that specifically because of that, we must separate from them as soon as possible. It is true that the extreme Left is traitorous and the extreme Right violent and lawbreaking. But it’s also true that most of us are not like them. Most Israelis are in the Center, which is unwilling to let the extremists run our lives.”
Lapid wrote about the need for national unity but not for a national unity government, which he currently opposes.
“At times like these, we must unite,” Lapid wrote. “Unity is created when we all understand that we won’t get 100 percent of what we want or believe. The middle path is the right way. What this country requires, at these times especially, is to find a common language again.”
Lapid defended Gush Etzion residents in interviews with the Hebrew press at the school.
“Residents of Efrat and Gush Etzion deserve to have security and freedom to travel safely,” Lapid said. “We need to guarantee our citizens the ability to live their normal lives without being stabbed by crazies.”
He praised the understandings Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached with US Secretary of State John Kerry about the Temple Mount, calling them reasonable.
He said the cameras will show it is not Israel that has been violating the status quo on the mount but Arab rock-throwers.
“We will have plenty of time to attack the government when the violence is over,” Lapid said. “I speak for Israel – not the government abroad – because there is a huge vacuum in our public diplomacy. It’s not a sign we are entering the government.”