Lapid: Replacing Netanyahu more important than being PM

Gantz ready for Sa'ar, Bennett to be PM.

MK Yair Lapid speaks during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to quit, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on April 19, 2020. (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
MK Yair Lapid speaks during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to quit, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on April 19, 2020.
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
The highest priority in the March 23 election is not becoming prime minister but removing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the post, opposition leader Yair Lapid said Sunday.
Becoming prime minister “is less important to me right now,” he told interviewer Yonit Levi at a conference sponsored by Channel 12. “What matters to me is that a government will be formed that is good, normal and reasonable. It is important that Yesh Atid will be the largest party in the government and that our values lead it.”
When asked what is more important, becoming prime minister or replacing Netanyahu, Lapid answered: “Removing Netanyahu from his post. I have proven that I can put my ego aside for the good of the state. This country needs a new start.”
Lapid challenged Netanyahu to a debate at the conference but refused to say he was running for prime minister against him.
Lapid said he was sure New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar and Yamina head Naftali Bennett would agree, as he has, to build a coalition with the support of the Joint List to remove Netanyahu from office.
In response, Yamina and New Hope said there was no chance of that happening, but Netanyahu tweeted that “for a change, Lapid is telling the truth.”
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Sunday said he would not necessarily recommend that Lapid form the next government after the election, even though his former political ally is predicted to win the most seats in Gantz’s political camp.
When President Reuven Rivlin consults with Blue and White’s representatives, they could recommend anyone who could form a government and replace Netanyahu, including Sa’ar, Gantz said.
“It could be Yair, Gideon or anyone else, as long as the government is honest and respects the rule of law,” he told interviewer Dana Weiss.
Gantz said his recommendation would depend on whether a candidate could obtain the support of the 61 MKs needed to form a government, as well as reflecting his views. He blasted Lapid for not doing enough to get Labor and Meretz to run together to ensure that neither would fall below the electoral threshold and waste votes.
Asked whether he could sleep soundly with Lapid as prime minister, Gantz said: “I could sleep soundly with anyone other than Netanyahu.”
Blue and White has not ruled out Bennett as prime minister, Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper, the politician closest to Gantz, said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
“Anyone who can replace Netanyahu is an option for us,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be the leader of the largest faction. It has to be the person with the most recommendations to the president.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Libermam told the conference: “Bennett has more of a chance of becoming prime minister of Singapore than Israel.”
If Netanyahu formed a government with the haredim, it would lead to Israel being “a country we don’t want to see,” Sa’ar told interviewer Amit Segal at the Channel 12 conference.
He also criticized Meretz after its leader, Nitzan Horowitz, said the International Criminal Court’s decision to probe Israel for war crimes was justified. With such views, Meretz would not be welcome in a coalition he would form, Sa’ar said, but if the party would change its views, he would not rule it out as a coalition partner.
Speaking at the same conference, Horowitz said he had no regrets about his controversial statement.
A poll taken for the conference found that if the election were held now, Likud would receive 29 seats, Yesh Atid 20 and New Hope and Yamina 12 each. Meretz did not cross the 3.25% threshold in the poll.
Labor leader Merav Michaeli told interviewer Sivan Rahav-Meir she believed Meretz would and should cross the threshold. Meretz is not a rival party of Labor, but Blue and White is because Gantz entered Netanyahu’s current government and could do so again, she said.