Lapid Suggests Political Considerations Are Behind Israel’s Gaza Operation

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Yair Lapid delivers a statement, earlier this month.
Yair Lapid delivers a statement, earlier this month.Credit: Emil Salman
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid suggested Sunday that political considerations were behind Israel’s military operation in Gaza, saying that if Israel had a working government, security matters would not interfere with politics.

Lapid, who has been tasked with forming a coalition after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mandate expired, also accused Kahanist lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir of having a central role in the escalation in tensions that led to rioting around the country and ultimately Israel's flare-up with Gaza. “No one would let a card-carrying lunatic like Itamar Ben-Gvir to set Jerusalem and then the entire country ablaze.”

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Furthermore, Lapid said, if a government had been successfully formed, no one would have to ask themselves “why the fire always breaks out precisely when it’s most convenient for the prime minister.”

Ben-Gvir retorted that Lapid was “on the side of the rioters and Hamas... They were rioting even before I opened an office.” Earlier this month, Ben-Gvir set up a temporary, makeshift office in the flashpoint neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, setting off a fresh round of clashes.

United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas meanwhile condemned attacks on Jewish and Muslim houses of worship, saying that “we must step away from the holy sites, to keep this matter outside the circle of the conflict... We are willing to participate, to be part of the restoration of the synagogues that have been damaged.”

Last week, Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett halted coalition talks with parties opposed to Netanyahu, saying that given the state of emergency in mixed-population Arab-Jewish cities, the planned makeup of the government that would be led by him and Lapid wouldn't be able be able to manage the situation because it had become necessary to deploy military troops and conduct arrests. He said that doing so would be impossible if the coalition were allied with the United Arab List. 

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