Veteran Israeli anchor Yair Lapid leaves Channel 2 to enter politics
Polls show that a Lapid-led independent party would garner 15-20 Knesset seats, and could potentially form a coalition that would rival Netanyahu's Likud.
Veteran Israeli journalist Yair Lapid announced Sunday he was leaving his longtime news anchor position at Channel 2 in order to compete in the next Israeli elections.
According to Channel 2, Lapid informed CEO Avi Weiss of his departure in order to enter the “public realm.” Weiss expressed regret over Lapid’s departure, but said he understood the decision.
Yair Lapid posted a response on his Facebook page and called on his followers to recruit for his up-and-coming political campaign.
"I'm embarking on a new path. I am equipped with the power of knowing that I am doing something that I believe in. You are my community, and I draw strength from you. I promise to post updates here and continue to listen to you."
It is unclear at this point which political party Lapid will seek to run under, although it is believed he will seek to run under a newly-established independent party.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) welcomed Lapid’s decision, saying that more people should join politics in order to “make positive change in Israel.”
Shelly Yachimovich (Labor), who had previously worked with Lapid on his Channel 2 news show, called Lapid a “person of substance” but stated that his entrance into politics would only strengthen those with “right-wing conservative views.”
Several recent surveys forecasted that a Lapid-led party could garner between 15 and 20 mandates in the Knesset.
A recent poll stated that a party headed by Lapid would become the second largest party in the Knesset.
According to the poll, if Lapid chooses to set up a new party, it would receive 15 Knesset seats in Israel’s next elections, as opposed to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu, which would receive 14 seats. Likud would remain the largest party in the Knesset, with 24 seats, and the Labor Party would tie in second place with Lapid’s party with 15 seats.
Kadima would lose the most seats in the next election, the poll results reveal, receiving only 10 seats as opposed to the 28 seats it received in the last election.
Moreover, the poll showed that should former Shas strongman Aryeh Deri set up his own party, he would receive 7 seats in the Knesset.
Should Lapid and Deri set up their parties and link with the center-left parties in the Knesset – such as Kadima, the Labor Party, Meretz, and the Arab parties, they would get 63 seats and a majority in the Knesset. On the other hand, the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties would get 57 seats, so in order to set up a coalition they would need to team up with one of the new parties or choose an exisiting centrist or leftist party.
Lapid - whose late father, Yosef Lapid, headed the Shinui party and served as justice minister under Ariel Sharon - is said to have been considering going into politics since the 2009 general election, but has denied it whenever asked.