Yesh Atid head vows to shun a hard-right Netanyahu government

We won’t be a ‘fifth wheel’ in coalition with Likud-Beytenu, Jewish Home and ultra-Orthodox parties, Yair Lapid says

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid on Thursday said that his party would not join a Likud-led coalition whose sole partners were right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties. Lapid’s statement came only hours after he criticized Labor Party chair Shelly Yachimovich for announcing that she wouldn’t sit in a government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“To all who have asked, we will not be a fifth wheel in a government comprising Shas and the extreme right,” Lapid posted on his Facebook wall on Thursday, an oblique reference to Netanyahu’s three likely coalition partners — Shas, the Jewish Home party and United Torah Judaism. “Am I crazy? There’s nothing for me there.”

However, he added, if Yesh Atid were to gain enough seats, “perhaps we can form a different government: a moderate, centrist government in which we can pass a law for an equal share in the burden [of military service], which won’t transfer billions to yeshivas and illegal outposts outside settlement blocs, and which will care for education, housing and the Israeli middle class.”

Analysts say that a strong showing by Yesh Atid could enable Netanyahu to assemble a more centrist, secular coalition with Lapid and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua, while sidelining some of his Likud party’s traditional partners to the right.

Livni on Thursday spoke of focusing on the imperative to oust Netanyahu.

“I don’t believe we should give up; we should fight together, forming a front against the radical front,” she said.

Earlier, Yachimovich put an end to speculation about her Labor Party joining a Likud-led government, stating categorically that she would not form a coalition with Netanyahu.

“There are only two possibilities,” Yachimovich declared at a press conference at her party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv. “Either the Labor Party under my leadership forms the government, or we will lead the opposition.”

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