Lapid: Deliberate effort to make us less of a democracy is dangerous

Former prime minister Yair Lapid talks about disappointment of his voters, attack on judiciary, Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 22, 2022.  (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 22, 2022.
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

Former prime minister Yair Lapid is getting used to his new/old position as opposition leader these days. 

In a special in-depth interview, for the first time since he left the seat of power, Lapid explained why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was able to sway his bloc after him, tells what scares him the most in the new government, details the allegations of Netanyahu's omissions regarding Iran, reveals personal secrets.

What riles him up the most, he explained, is the legal revolution that's seemingly going into effect. This was announced on Wednesday by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the night before the High Court hearing on the appointment of Arye Deri as minister. 

Although Levin seems determined to flip the judicial system in his favor, Lapid says that all is not lost.

"The judicial system is not destroyed that quickly," claimed Lapid. "We will also hold a dialogue with people from the coalition in an attempt to explain to them and talk to them about the fact that what is happening here is profoundly improper."

"The judicial system is not destroyed that quickly."

Opposition leader Yair Lapid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM + GILI YAARI/FLASH90)Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM + GILI YAARI/FLASH90)

Is Lapid pinning his hopes on anyone in the coalition?

"Yes," he said. "We have to fight for the legal system. People don't understand - a state is a legal institution, first and foremost. I mean, the whole essence of what a state is is that a state is a legal institution. It has a law and the Supreme Court is the interpreter of the law.

"The legal system, I believe, will stand its ground," he added.

Lapid explained that Levin intends to pass numerous changes to the judicial system that would "clean out" the High Court of Justice. "The government will select the judges," Lapid said incredulously. "This is a crazy event, and no one understands what I'm talking about."

He nevertheless expressed confidence that whatever changes to the judicial system are passed by this government will be reversed "as soon as we return to power."

Regarding Netanyahu's indictment and the ongoing trials, Lapid said that the attorney-general, the IDF chief-of-staff and the Shin Bet head do not need to resign, calling it an "easy solution" and reminding them that "these people swore allegiance to the State of Israel, not to the government of Israel."

The Ben-Gvir scandal

"I got the impression that Netanyahu is worried about Ben-Gvir and knows he is dangerous," Lapid said, referring to the newly-sworn-in national security minister who, just this past Tuesday, made international waves by heading up to the Temple Mount.

"But he is too weak to do anything about him," Lapid added.

Winners and losers

"A year and a half ago I was the genius and Netanyahu was the loser, now it changes and next time it will change again," Lapid said. "So why bother with the blame game?"