Joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud in a unity government will "ruin the country," opposition leader MK Yair Lapid said on Ynet Radio on Monday morning, in response to growing calls over the past week for Lapid and National Unity chairman MK Benny Gantz to enter the government instead of the far-right Otzma Yehudit and the Religious Zionist Party (RZP).
The opposition leader clarified that as long as Netanyahu was prime minister Yesh Atid would not enter a government, not because of the person himself, but for reasons of "values."
"I am a decent person, and this would be the death of decency. It cannot be in Israel that there will be no opposition to corruption, no opposition to the idea of standing on the steps of the court and threatening judges, opposition to those who claim that moral integrity does not matter, and opposition to the idea that racism and messianism have a place in a government," Lapid said.
"It is important that at least half the people who believe this" should be represented, Lapid said.
"If we declare that there is no opposition in Israel to the idea of corruption and to the destruction of all Israeli values … this does not save the country, it destroys everything that this country represents,' Lapid said.
Instead of entering the government, the opposition would continue to conduct a determined struggle for democracy. Unlike Hungary and Poland, Israel has democracy in its DNA and therefore democracy will prevail, Lapid argued.
Calls for Lapid and Gantz to replace Ben-Gvir and Smotrich in government
Lapid's remarks came after growing calls in the past week for him and Gantz to enter the government instead of Otzma Yehudit chairman National Security Minister MK Itamar Ben-Gvir and RZP chairman Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, in order to enable a possible normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Such a deal would likely demand Israeli concessions or gestures towards the Palestinian Authority, which Otzma Yehudit and RZP would be unlikely to support.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was attempting to promote the move behind the scenes, according to reports over the weekend. In addition, the New York Times reported last week that the US administration had also inquired about the possibility of a unity government.
National Unity MK Chili Tropper said in an interview on Sunday that such a proposal was "not on the table," and that the chances of making such a move would increase if Yesh Atid was interested as well. Lapid's remarks therefore likely put an end to the idea of a unity government in the near future.