Lapid Backtracks on Promise to Support Head of Largest Party After Elections

Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog has been unable to secure the agreement of the leader of Yesh Atid to back him in creation of next government.

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Yair Lapid during an election event in Tel Aviv University, January 18. 2015.
Yair Lapid during an election event in Tel Aviv University, January 18. 2015.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

MK Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party, will not necessarily recommend the head of the faction that wins the most Knesset seats in the upcoming election for the post of prime minister.

In answer to a question from Haaretz at an event in Tel Aviv during which the Yesh Atid platform was unveiled, Lapid said the party was no longer committed, as it was in the last election, to recommending the leader of the largest faction as the candidate to form the next government.

MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of Zionist Union, has been trying for weeks to get Lapid to come out in support of Herzog’s own candidacy for the post, so far to no avail. Lapid has been careful not to declare Herzog as his choice for premier in the next government, nor to reject current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The fact that Lapid is remaining ambiguous as to who he will recommend as prime minister plays in his favor at our expense,” a source in Zionist Union said. “Many voters who do not want Netanyahu are going to him [Lapid] instead of to us, although Lapid has so far not counted out supporting Netanyahu,” the source added.

Lapid pledged far-reaching changes to the system of government during the previous election campaign. Alongside a commitment to reduce the number of ministers and do away with ministers without portfolio, Lapid also promised to work toward legislation providing for the head of the largest party to form the government.

Lapid made good on his pledge when he recommended to then-President Shimon Peres after the previous elections that Netanyahu form the next government — to the displeasure of the heads of the center-left bloc.

In an interview last week with the right-wing daily Makor Rishon, Lapid said: “I am a centrist party. You will not find me recommending the left.” Asked whether he meant Herzog, Lapid replied: “Herzog is left.”

In response to a report in Haaretz on those remarks, Yesh Atid said: “The quotes presented in Makor Rishon were taken out of context. Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid reiterates his clear position that Yesh Atid will do anything so that Netanyahu will not be prime minister again.”

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