Yair Lapid Cancels University Conference in Wake of Media Storm

Yair Lapid yesterday canceled a conference scheduled to take place today at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, most likely because of the media storm surrounding news that he may seek political office.

According to an Army Radio report, the television presenter had earlier demanded that the university not permit journalists to attend the lecture, which was meant only for students, and asked that the identity of those participating be thoroughly checked.

Lapid said the cancellation was due to the excessive coverage the event had drawn. "I was tired of all the uproar, so I canceled," he told Haaretz.

Initiated by Lapid and his crew, many students had already purchased tickets to the event before the announcement came that Lapid did not plan to go to Be'er Sheva in the end.

"We were pleased by the opportunity to host a public figure of Yair Lapid's stature. Public figures are not always willing to come to Be'er Sheva," said student union chairman Uri Keidar. "I believe the academic sphere is precisely the right forum to hold serious discussion on the urgent issues facing Israeli society. Unfortunately, Lapid surprisingly canceled the lecture and that is very disappointing. We will continue promoting interesting events on campus for the student body."

The 'Lapid Law'

Last week Lapid held a conference at the Air Force House in Herzliya, where he presented his views on politics, foreign policy and other subjects.

"If we want to live," he said, "we must do three things: establish a constitution, change the government system and preserve the core curriculum."

His comments, which led to the conclusion that he was planning to run for the Knesset, also resulted in increased pressure on Channel 2 to remove him from presenting the Friday news program "Ulpan Shishi."

MKs and senior media figures are planning to meet Wednesday to discuss the "Lapid Law" bill, proposed by MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima ), which would require a six-month "cooling off" period for journalists seeking to move to politics.

"Now we have proof of the need for the bill I proposed," Tirosh said. "Media personalities entering politics is a positive development," she said, "but they must decide in good time on which side of the interview table they want to sit."

Yair Lapid was invited to the meeting, but said he does not plan to attend.

MK Carmel Shama (Likud ) asked that the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee hold an urgent meeting under the title "Supervision of Political Comments by Senior Media Figures," to discuss Lapid's comments.

Shama has proposed a bill that would require media figures to take a one-year "cooling off" period before turning to politics.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Ehud Olmert is writing a book that will likely focus on the various investigations that have been held against him. The book is also likely to focus on various political aspects of his career. Yair Lapid has been tapped to edit the book.