Yair Lapid Backtracks on Dropping Equal Military Service Burden From Party Platform

A day after stating that Yesh Atid will accept any High Court decision regarding equal sharing of the military burden, party chairman says he was misunderstood.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid at a Knesset party meeting, December 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid was obliged to post a Facebook clarification on Tuesday in which he said that in contrast to his statement the previous day, his party would not pull back from its struggle to equalize the burden of military service.

Lapid held a video chat on Facebook on Monday in which he emphatically declared that his party would cease to struggle for such equality if the High Court of Justice approves the latest plan chosen by the government. This statement came despite the fact that this issue was a cardinal one in the party’s platform in the last two election campaigns.

During his video chat Lapid said, among other things: “If the High Court decides that we did the right thing I’ll be happy. If it decides that the outline determined by the current government is appropriate I’ll accept that since one has to accept court rulings, whether one likes them or not. The topic of sharing the burden will therefore not be on the agenda if and when we set up the next government.”

Lapid cast a wink toward the ultra-Orthodox parties, saying he has no problem with forming a coalition with anyone. “This doesn’t violate any of my principles. I don’t disqualify anyone. I believe in dialogue with all segments of Israeli society.”

Lapid’s words irked many members of his party, who saw them as an attempt to sell out on its stated positions in order to improve relations with Orthodox parties ahead of the next elections, in preparation for seeking their support for his candidacy. Fury within the party caused Lapid to post the clarification on Facebook, in which he described things in exactly the opposite way.

“The assumption was that we would win at the High Court of Justice, not that we’d give up our principles. Apparently this has to be better clarified,” he tried to explain.

Lapid said that Yesh Atid has not given up on the idea of sharing the burden. “We’re the ones who spearheaded this campaign and we’re the only ones still fighting the battle at the High Court of Justice. We believe that it’s the right way to integrate different parts of society. The ultra-Orthodox must know that this is not an attempt to harass them or disturb their way of life, but a search for a new contract regarding our common life, in which every sector has the same rights and obligations.”