Journalist Yair Lapid: I Will Take Six-month Cooling Off Period if I Move Into Politics

Yair Lapid, the presenter of Channel 2's Friday news program "Ulpan Shishi," responded yesterday in writing to the media storm that his possible move to politics has stirred.

Yair Lapid

"I am not in touch with any political body, old or new, and certainly am not working on behalf of any such body," Lapid wrote in a letter to the chairman of the board of Channel 2 News, Dr. Yehuda Lankri, and company CEO Avi Weiss. Last week, Yoav Karkovsky of Israel Radio published sections from a lecture Lapid delivered in Herzliya, in which Lapid discussed the need for a change in the system of governance, a constitution and the preservation of the core educational curriculum for every community.

Based on these and additional statements, many concluded that Lapid was planning to turn to politics.

The news spread fast, with wide coverage given to the possibility that the popular television personality had ulterior motives. In turn, various organizations and MKs demanded that Lapid be dismissed from his position, while others called for legislation that would require a six-month "cooling off" period for journalists turning to politics.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is due to discuss the bill next week. MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima ), who initiated the bill, is scheduled to hold a Knesset meeting on the subject tomorrow.

Lapid also commented on the proposed legislation, saying "My only link to the field [of politics] is that I was asked in the past whether I foresaw a possibility that in the future I would join politics and I said that it was a distant possibility, but I am not rejecting it off hand.

"I decided to make it clear," he continued, "that I am applying to myself the 'cooling off law,' which is currently at the initial stages of deliberation, and promise that if I ever decide to change my mind and go to politics, I will announce it at least six months in advance."

Channel 2 News did not comment on Lapid's letter. However, a senior source in the company said "the letter provides the necessary clarifications and puts an end to the preoccupation with this issue."