In First Knesset Speech, Yair Lapid Highlights Israel's 'Crisis of Governance'

Yesh Atid chairman says public 'has lost faith in the ability of the state to make decisions;' urges new government to restart peace negotiations.

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Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid gave his debut speech at the Knesset on Monday, as coalition talks continued.

In his speech Lapid chose to discuss the problem of governance in Israel, quoting David Ben-Gurion's speech given upon his resignation from the Third Knesset 61 years ago. "The task before us, shattered to pieces, is the state's ability exercise sovereignty over the different segments of society. We are different from one another. And there is plenty of beauty is this complex and colorful mosaic and I wouldn't want to live in a country in which everyone came of the same assembly line," Lapid said, adding that the things that distinguish us have made governing the country impossible.

Lapid added that since Ben-Gurion gave his speech the crisis of sovereignty reemerged because "we lost our faith in the ability of the state to make decisions and tell certain groups what can and can't be done."

According to Lapid, "the education, welfare and even health budgets are not being determined according to needs but according to coalition-related pressures."

He added that there are at least a dozen unnecessary government ministries, and addressed the state's inaction in the face of violent offenders in the West Bank and in Arab villages. "This is not a democracy," he said, "it is anarchy."

Lapid also talked about the impasse in peace negotiations, urging a swift return to talks with the Palestinians. He said that if the Knesset does not stand in the forefront of renewed negotiations, it would breach its commitment toward the voters. "The discussion over peace is perhaps the most fundamental one we should be having, but it cannot take place under threats of violence and lawlessness. A person should obey a decision even if it contradicts everything he stands for," he said. Concerning the issue of expanding military service to all segments of Israeli society, Lapid said that "there will be no civil war, because 10 percent of the population cannot threaten the rest of the public."

Earlier Monday, Lapid talked about the coalition talks his party is holding with other parties. "We are in the midst of negotiations. 99.99 percent of what was written in the media did not really happen. We presented our principles on sharing the burden and the composition of the government," he said. "I had two very good meeting with the prime minister. We know each other from earlier and we get along great."

According to Lapid, "there is currently no talk about portfolios. All the reports on handing out portfolios, which you read about in the papers, are speculations that have nothing to do with us."

Earlier on Monday, Lapid met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett. The sides described the meeting "to-the-point," but the press releases released by the sides after the meeting showed that there were still many issues in dispute.

Yair Lapid addresses the Knesset for the first time, February 11, 2013.Credit: Michal Fattal

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