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Journalist Yair Lapid must firmly rule out entering politics or he will lose his job as anchor of the top-rated Channel 2 news magazine Ulpan Shishi, Lapid’s superiors said Thursday.
The heads of Channel 2 and the Second Television Authority spoke a day after Israel Radio revealed that he had delivered an overtly political speech in which he called for voters to return to the Center-Left, and he outlined a platform that included evacuating the West Bank and Golan Heights, drafting yeshiva students, transferring a fourth of the defense budget to education, and limiting the number of ministers.
The Second Television Authority will hold a hearing on Lapid’s comments later this month. But the authority’s chairman Amnon Nadav said that, barring an about-face from Lapid, his mind was already made up.
“This is the political smoking gun and it cannot be ignored,” Nadav told Army Radio. “If this isn’t running for election, then I don’t know what is. To continue broadcasting in public domain on Channel 2, he must say he won’t run. That would fix all the problems. He cannot leave the issue in the air.”
The head of the Television Council in the Second Television Authority, Yaakov Shaham, went further, saying that Lapid’s failure to reveal his future put in question his integrity.
“This situation is not kosher or proper,” Shaham said. “Yair needs to decide where he is and display clean hands. He must say now that he doesn’t intend to run for the next Knesset. Then he can express his views, but if he hasn’t decided yet, he should stop his speaking tour.”
The Ometz organization sent a letter demanding Lapid’s suspension to Channel 2 News board chairman Yehuda Lancry and director-general Avi Weiss. Lancry responded that Lapid must be given the benefit of the doubt.
“Yair Lapid needs to be given a chance,” Lancry said. “Hearing what he said raises questions. I would advise Yair Lapid when the time comes to choose between journalism and politics and not continue this ambiguity.”
Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh will host a rally at the Knesset on Wednesday in
support of her so-called “Yair Lapid bill” that would institute a
cooling-off period for journalists before they enter politics.
But another Kadima MK said Lapid should be allowed to run, because he
was certain he would eventually join Kadima, rather than run at the
helm of a new center-left secularist party.
“I have no doubt that he will be near the top of our list in the
election,” said the MK, who is close to Kadima leader Tzipi Livni. “He
wants to lead, and he only can do this as head of a ruling party, not a
sectarian party. Kadima’s platform and the one he outlined are the
same. If he joins us, he could rise in the ranks, eventually replace
Livni and run as our candidate for prime minister.”
A source close to Livni responded that it was too early to worry or speculate about Lapid’s future with or without the party.