Lapid vows to 'change Israel's operating system'

Former journalist warns: "Israeliness is under attack, but we can still stand up and say we are demanding it back.”

Yair Lapid speaks at a business conference in Eilat 390 (photo credit: Ezra Levi)
Yair Lapid speaks at a business conference in Eilat 390
(photo credit: Ezra Levi)
Journalist turned politician, Yair Lapid, outlined the agenda he intends to promote in his new political career at a conference of businessmen in Eilat on Thursday.
In his first public speech since entering politics on January 8, Lapid vowed to represent ordinary middle-class secular Israelis in what he described as a fight over the country’s future in which the enemies are corrupt politicians, tycoons and haredim (ultra-Orthodox).
“Israeliness is under attack, but we can still stand up and say this country is ours and we are demanding it back,” Lapid said.
“The most terrific people in the world live here. We have no spare country and I don’t intend to surrender it. Giving up is not an option.”
Lapid outlined a four-step plan for “changing the operating system of the country.” He called for changing the political system, repealing laws that help the haredim avoid secular studies and army service, fighting corruption, and encouraging economic growth.
His plan for changing the political system includes granting the largest party the automatic right to form a government, and raising both Israel’s 2 percent electoral threshold and the number of MKs needed to overthrow a prime minister in a no-confidence vote. He did not join a new trend of public figures calling for enacting regional elections for half the Knesset.
“The current government system encourages extortion,” Lapid said. “Politics is not supposed to be a corrupt game of musical chairs.” In his attack on the haredim, Lapid said he would work to cancel the Tal Law on army service for haredim, and the Nahari Law that obligates local authorities to fund haredi schools in which the core curriculum is not studied.
“We are being choked by entire sectors who do not serve or work,” he said. “Fifty percent of first-graders are haredim or Arabs. That means if we don’t do something, 12 years from now, they won’t be in the army.
The Palestinians won’t need to do anything except make coffee, light a cigarette and wait for the Zionist state to collapse.”
Regarding corruption of tycoons, Lapid said they had found ways to avoid paying some NIS 20 billion in taxes. He complained that while some European countries have 14 to 16 ministers, Israel, at the start of the current government, had 40 ministers and deputy ministers.
He said the number of ministers and municipalities in Israel both needed to be limited by law.
To stimulate economic growth, Lapid called for steps to be taken to help small and midsized business owners, who he said were the key to the success of Israel’s economy.
Lapid said none of those steps could be taken unless a party is formed to push for those goals.
He vowed to represent middleclass people who pay taxes, serve in the IDF, obey laws, and pay 48% income tax.
“People have been asking me why I need to do this,” Lapid said regarding his shift from Channel 2 anchorman to politics.
“But over the past month, I have been asking myself why I didn’t do it sooner.”