Lapid: Ready to cooperate with Sa'ar in government

Sa'ar: We won't let Trump behavior happen here.

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)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid expressed willingness on Sunday to cooperate with New Hope candidate Gideon Sa’ar in the next government, which they both hope to form.
Lapid said during a media briefing that on issues like annexation and matters of religion and state, Sa’ar has opposite views, but that those issues would not prevent cooperating in the formation of a future government. He said they had good relations, had served in the same government before and could work together in the future.
When asked about cooperating with Lapid to form a government, Sa’ar told KAN Radio on Sunday that such cooperation could only come with him replacing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The public realizes – and so does Netanyahu – that I am the only candidate who can beat him,” Sa’ar said.
Asked about US President Donald Trump’s supporters storming the Capitol last week, Sa’ar criticized both Trump and Netanyahu, without mentioning the latter by name.
“I am thankful to President Trump, but as a believer in democracy, I am worried about his discourse that delegitimizes democracy, and we saw it before and after the election,” he said. “Statements like ‘they stole the election from me’ are dangerous and undermine the foundations of society and democracy. We won’t let it happen here in Israel.”
Asked whether Netanyahu would behave similarly to Trump, Lapid said, “I don’t see it happening. I don’t see him fortifying himself in Balfour if he loses the election, and if so, he will be asked politely to leave.”
Lapid told The Jerusalem Post at the press conference that Netanyahu had mishandled relations with the US.
“It was wrong to make Israel into a branch of the Republican Party,” Lapid said. “It was wrong to fight Democrats so blatantly and throw away bipartisanship. Everyone is angry at Israel, and it could have been prevented. The Democrats now control the Senate, House and White House. In the US, they don’t hesitate to say that Netanyahu treated them undiplomatically. I don’t think they will take revenge, because they aren’t like that, but they have long memories.”
Asked about future political bonds, Lapid said he was not ruling out any merger, as long as it could have a positive impact on advancing his party’s values and he and Yesh Atid would lead the list. He said he maintained positive ties with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and former justice minister Avi Nissenkorn, the heads of the new Israelis Party, but he did not expect such steps until just before the February 4 deadline.
“There needs to be a large force of people who believe in a liberal worldview,” he said. “I am very in favor of mergers. The second party in our bloc is about a third of our size, so we will lead any list. Mergers that double our strength will be welcomed with joy.
But Lapid also cautioned that “there is a danger from all the shards of parties, because in the end, they throw votes in the trash and serve Netanyahu.” He said he was not ruling out adding an Arab candidate to his list, but he is happy with Yesh Atid’s current roster of MKs.
Lapid called Huldai a good man and a good manager and said he is glad he entered politics, but that it is not good for Tel Aviv that Huldai has remained mayor of the city after entering national politics.
Huldai said in interviews over the weekend that he would leave his post immediately after the election, before being sworn in as a member of Knesset.