Yair Lapid: With Unity Cabinet, Netanyahu Can Fight Israeli Extremists

Speaking at supporters' meet, former anchor says PM's only opposition is now the Israeli people; Netanyahu: Sessions on new Haredi IDF enlistment law to begin next week.

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With his new unity cabinet in place, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should show he can't be bullied by his far-right coalition partners, former anchor and would-be politician Yair Lapid said on Thursday, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said discussions on a new Haredi army enlistment law will begin next week.

Lapid's comments came after, on Tuesday, Netanyahu and Kadima head Shaul Mofaz agreed to form a unity cabinet, which includes 94 of the Knesset's 120 seats.

Yair LapidCredit: Alon Ron

Speaking at a meeting in the central-Israel kibbutz of Shefayim, Lapid said he'd like to use the opportunity to address the premier directly, saying: "Mr. prime minister, you have nothing to be afraid of anymore. It's time to govern."

Lapid said: "You don't have to be afraid from you coalition partners, since you can give any one of them up and not even notice it. You don't have to be afraid of the opposition, since you have none."

"The only thing you need to be afraid of is us. It's the vocal majority that will scrutinize from now on, to see what you're doing to fulfill your promises. You made this move so to avoid elections, so you can do the only thing you've avoiding since being named prime minister, you can decide your own identity," Lapid said.

Later on, the former journalist said that the newly formed cabinet has "a political power second to none in Israel's history, and there's no excuse preventing it from realizing the principles being expressed."

Referring to a recent High Court ruling to demolish the illegal outpost of Ulpana Hill by July 1, Lapid said Netanyahu had enough Knesset "seats to tell all the extreme elements threatening the rule of law in Israel: 'We won't take it.' And they need to back the Supreme Court full on and say, even if we don't like the ruling on the Ulpana Hill, we will uphold the law."

Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz speaking at a joint news conference, May 8, 2012Credit: Emil Salman

Lapid, naturally, had some choice words for the recent, and surprising move to form a unity government, saying that "what we have been seeing in the last few days is just the reason we embarked on this path. That's just the bad old politics we've come to abolish from our lives."

"Something good happened to us. Because everyone that said that we're the ones who lost from pushing back the elections didn't notice that this week we became Israel's only centrist party," Lapid said, adding: "Labor and Meretz on the left, Netanyahu swallowed Kadima on the right, and we're the only party in the center."

"That's the dream of every political movement. It's everything we hoped for, that we’d become the address. We've become the only real address for the dozens of Knesset seats [representing] Israel's industrious, working, army- serving, tax-paying public."

Also on Thursday, Netanyahu announced that discussions geared at forming an alternative to the so-called Tal Law - regulating Haredi IDF service - will begin next week.

According to an announcement released by the Prime Minister's Office, the law would "gradually increase equality, bring Jews and Arabs into service, without one using one population to fight another."

The Tel Law, which expires this August, was stated by both Netanyahu and Mofaz as one of the main reasons for the formation of the new unity cabinet.



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