Lapid nixes blocking move, signals support for Netanyahu

Yesh Atid head says he is pleased with direction prime minister took in post-election speech

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid speaks to the press outside his home in Tel Aviv on Wednesday (photo credit: Flash90)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid speaks to the press outside his home in Tel Aviv on Wednesday (photo credit: Flash90)

Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid quashed any talk of forming a blocking majority to keep Benjamin Netanyahu from staying on as prime minister Wednesday night, expressing hope that he would work together with Netanyahu in the future.

Lapid, speaking to the press outside his Tel Aviv home Wednesday night, seemed to indicate that he would be open to joining a Netanyahu ruling coalition as a senior member.

“I want to remove this talk of a blocking majority,” Lapid said, adding that he would not join up with Balad MK Hanin Zoabi. “I want to take it off the table.”

Tuesday’s night’s near-final election results gave right-wing and Orthodox parties 60 seats in the 120-member Knesset, prompting some vague talk of all other parties — center, left and Arab — joining together to block Netanyahu. Lapid quashed that. Final results after 240,000 soldiers’ and other last votes are tallied overnight Wednesday may yet change the Knesset balance slightly, but Netanyahu is virtually certain to be best-placed to lead the next coalition.

Lapid said he was pleased to hear Netanyahu say the next government would tackle the issue of drafting ultra-Orthodox into the military and socio-economic issues.

“I’m happy to see he addressed all the things we talked about over the last year,” Lapid, a former journalist, said.

Lapid’s new Yesh Atid faction won 19 seats in Tusday voting, becoming the second largest party and making it something of a linchpin for a future coalition. His statement Wednesday night, seemingly endorsing Netanyahu, essentially gives Netanyahu the green light to form the next government.

Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich and Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on had called on Lapid Wednesday to resist Netanyahu and join a center-left blocking majority that would push the prime minister out of office.

However, doing so would have meant teaming up with anti-Zionist Arab MKs, such as Hanin Zoabi, one of the Knesset’s more controversial figures. Lapid said he was not interested in that possibility.

He also thanked the party’s thousands of volunteers and said the party would work to create a better place.

Yesh Atid and Likud-Beytenu have 50 seats when joined up, giving Netanyahu flexibility in choosing other partners. He has said he will look to form a wide coalition, though Lapid may insist ultra-Orthodox parties be kept out of the government.

Bringing in the religious-nationalist Jewish Home would give the government 61 seats, just enough to form a government. Should Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua, or Kadima also be brought in, the government would have 63 or 67 seats respectively.

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