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RTL Today – Israel Lapid: from TV anchor to Netanyahu’s top challenger




He is a former headline news anchor for the time, best known for his carved appearance, but Israel’s Yair Lapid has become one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strongest challengers.

When Lapid founded his Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party in 2012, some dismissed him as the latest in a series of media stars seeking to give his fame to political success.

Yesh Atid, a staunchly secular and centrist party, claimed a staggering 19 seats in Israel’s 120-member parliament in the 2013 election, winning Lapid a brief turn as Netanyahu’s finance minister and establishing him as a credible force. in politics.

This credibility is now reaching new heights.

Yesh Atid joined the centrist Blue and White coalition formed in 2019 under the leadership of former military chief Benny Gantz.

Blue and White then fought Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud in three elections – all without end – in less than a year.

When Gantz decided last spring to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, citing the need for unity as the coronavirus pandemic was picking up pace, Lapid shut down the spear.

He accused Gantz of violating a fundamental promise Blue and White had made to her supporters: that she would fight to overthrow Netanyahu.

In an interview with AFP in September, Lapid said Gantz had naively believed that Netanyahu would work collaboratively within the coalition.

“I told (Gantz), ‘I worked with Netanyahu.’ Why does not he hear the voice of experience … He is 71 years old. “He will not change,” Lapid said.

After coming out of Blue and White, Lapid entered parliament as the leader of Yesh Atid and the leader of the opposition.

He described Netanyahu-Gantz’s short-lived unity government as “a ridiculous coalition”, in which cabinet ministers who did not like each other did not try to communicate.

He also predicted that the coalition would collapse in December, which he did, amid bitter resentment between Netanyahu and Gantz.

– Lapid ‘has changed’ –

Lapid is the 57-year-old Tel Aviv-born son of formerly hardline minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, another journalist who left the media to enter politics.

His mother, Shulam, is a novelist, playwright and poet.

Yair Lapid, an amateur boxer and martial artist who has also published a dozen books, including thrillers, children’s literature, and non-fiction, was a newspaper columnist before becoming a presenter on Channel 2 TV, a role that raised his stardom. his.

Opinion polls suggest his Yesh Atid will win between 18 and 20 seats on Tuesday, making him the second largest party in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, after Likud.

While he may have replaced Gantz as the strongest force in the anti-Netanyahu camp, Lapid’s path to a 61-seat majority and prime ministership is complex and likely to require a complex alliance of right-wing, left-wing and lawmakers. the Arab Israelis.

Lapid, who was once on Israel’s most wanted list, is now waging a cautious campaign to position himself as an alternative to Netanyahu, political columnist Yuval Karni wrote in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper last week.

“The knife blade between the teeth has changed,” Carney wrote.

“He rarely gives interviews, refrains from self-magnification, and instead of throwing mud (against his Jewish religious opponents) … released a plan on climate change.

“Lapid is now campaigning for the prime minister, or rather, a campaign to replace Netanyahu.”

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