Journeywoman MK Michal Shir announces move from New Hope to Yesh Atid

In shift from right to center, pro-annexation MK who denounced Lapid as amateur in previous elections now joins his party, a ‘wall against those who try to break us up from within’

MK Michal Shir speaks at a Labor and Welfare Committee meeting in the Knesset, June 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Michal Shir speaks at a Labor and Welfare Committee meeting in the Knesset, June 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

New Hope MK Michal Shir, a former member of the Likud party and erstwhile critic of Prime Minister Yair Lapid, announced on Sunday she was joining his party.

Shir’s move from New Hope, headed by her former boss Gideon Sa’ar, came three weeks after New Hope announced it would run on a joint ticket with Blue and White in the upcoming election, an alliance that would likely have pushed Shir down the merged parties’ Knesset slate, putting her at risk of losing her seat.

In a statement announcing her departure, Shir called Sa’ar a “friend,” but indicated that she saw Yesh Atid leading the charge against Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to reclaim power.

“I had the privilege of being part of the dramatic political process that led to the end of Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule,” she said. “Today I join Prime Minister Yair Lapid and the Yesh Atid party, which is the main political force that stands as a wall against those who try to break us up from within.”

Shir, 42, began her career in politics with the Likud party, having joined its youth movement at the age of 14. She rose through the ranks of Likud as Sa’ar’s aide before getting elected to the Knesset in 2019 in the party’s slot for a Tel Aviv representative.

During the 2019 election cycles, Shir was a devoted Likud member, echoing the party’s claims that Lapid was a dangerous amateur.

Then Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar speak in the Knesset plenum on October 27, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“Yair Lapid! He’s the one who will have to speak to [then-US president Donald] Trump and [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin?! Yair Lapid will deal with Gaza?! Yair Lapid will take the beautiful thing that we have built and destroy it,” she told supporters in 2019.

Shir made similar remarks ahead of both the March elections and September elections of that year.

“These are our lives and you want to play with them completely irresponsibly,” she wrote to Lapid in a March 2019 tweet.

Shir in the past has also advanced legislation that is today at odds with the positions of the Yesh Atid party, particularly regarding Israel’s West Bank policies.

In April 2019, she proposed a bill that would annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and roads leading to them. At the time, she said this was necessary to ensure equality between Israelis living in Israel proper and those living in West Bank settlements.

Shir left Likud in December 2020, after months of criticizing Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and joined Sa’ar’s right-wing New Hope party.

Lapid hailed the decision of his one-time critic to join his party, saying she was an “excellent and hardworking Knesset member with a lot of experience.”

“We have much work before us. We will continue to work together for the benefit of the citizens of Israel,” Lapid said.

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