Yair Lapid speaking a day after he was given the mandate to form the next government

Israel has had enough hate and needs unity, says Lapid as he tries to form government

Prime minister-designate says that his prospective coalition partners may be from across political spectrum, but they are all working for the good of the nation; 'Israel is a wounded country. It needs peace,' he says

Sivan Hilaie, Moran Azulay |
Published: 05.06.21 , 21:30
In his first speech as prime minister-designate, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called for unity on Thursday, saying Israel has had enough of internal divisions and hostility.
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  • "We have had enough anger, we have had enough hate, we have had enough fighting," said Lapid, who was tapped Wednesday by President Reuven Rivlin to try to form the next government.
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    יאיר לפיד
    יאיר לפיד
    Yair Lapid speaking a day after he was given the mandate to form the next government
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Lapid had called a special press conference in Tel Aviv to deliver his speech, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on live television to rail against his political rivals as the mandate to form a government was passed to Lapid.
    Netanyahu had four weeks to try to come up with a formula that would let him keep his position and cobble together a coalition of his right-wing, religious allies.
    But clashes among his supporters and the reluctance of right-wingers Saar and Bennett to join his government left him empty-handed when his allotted time was up.
    A day later, Rivlin passed the torch to Lapid and a frustrated Netanyahu delivered his incendiary speech.
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    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Benjamin Netanyahu speaking Tuesday after Yair Lapid was handed the mandate to form a government
    (Photo: Contact)
    The new prime minister-designate used Netanyahu's diatribe to highlight the need for unity after four elections in two years failed to lead to a stable majority government.
    "Yesterday, the president gave me the mandate to try to form a government in Israel," Lapid said.
    "I said to his honor the president: 'An Israeli unity government is not a compromise - it is an objective.' This is what the country needs now.
    "And as if to prove it, Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately went on the air. More defamation, more division. The lowest blows possible. Against Naftali [Bennett of far-right Yamina], Gideon [Saar of right-wing New Hope], the left, me. In a manner that shames the position and the person," said Lapid.
    "Israel is a wounded country. It needs peace, it needs unity, it must have - needs - a functioning government. Israel is tired of quarrels. The people of Israel look at its politicians and ask themselves: 'When will they stop fighting and go to work for us?' And my answer is: now," he said.
    Lapid said he was trying to form "a complex government, but one that will have a simple goal: to get us out of this crisis. From the coronavirus crisis, from the economic crisis, from the political crisis, especially from the crisis within us, within the people of Israel."
    He added: "If we do succeed in forming a government, it will also act differently towards the opposition. We will not defame, we will not belittle, we will respect them, we will take care of the problems of those who did not vote for us to the best of our ability."
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    השבעת הכנסת ה24
    השבעת הכנסת ה24
    Yair Lapid, right, with Yamina leader Naftali Bennett at the opening of Knesset last month
    (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem)
    Lapid also made reference to the vastly different political persuasions of his prospective partners, who are united by their desire to remove Netanyahu after 12 years in office and as he is under criminal indictment.
    "I believe in the good intentions of my future partners - Naftali and Benny [Gantz of centrist Blue & White], Gideon and Merav [Michaeli of left-wing Labor], Yvette [Avigdor Liberman of right-wing Yisrael Beytenu] and Nitzan [Horowitz of left-wing Meretz]. They are different people with different opinions, but the fact that someone does not agree with you does not make them the enemy," he said.
    "Everyone loves this country from the bottom of their hearts. They want to build, and repair and create collaborations that we have not seen here for many years."
    The Yesh Atid leader said he was committed to the coalition outline of parity and rotating premiership he has proposed to Bennett, whose seven Knesset seats he needs to form a majority government.
    "What I proposed before receiving the mandate stands because my word is iron clad and that is what is on the table," Lapid said.
    "Naftali and I were in the coalition together, we were in the opposition together, we were together when he was in the coalition and I was in the opposition. He has never cheated me and I have never cheated him, which is already a refreshing start to a relationship between politicians within a political system," he said.
    Lapid also vowed that he would not form a government comprising of dozens of ministers, but downplayed his campaign commitment to a limit of 18.
    "If there were 61 Knesset seats for Yesh Atid, this would not be a problem. The fact is that this is a government made up of seven parties. I promise there will not be 31 ministers and deputy ministers as there were in the current government as it is absurd and does not serve the State of Israel."
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    Bodies of the dead in the Meron disaster
    Bodies of the dead in the Meron disaster
    Bodies of the dead laid out at the scene of the disaster at Mount Meron last week
    (Photo: Gil Nehushtan)
    Lapid also touched on last week's disaster on Mount Meron, in which 45 people were killed in a crush during Lag BaOmer festivities at the site, saying he would advance the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the tragedy.
    "I think it could have been different. Every Jew who wants to pray on Mount Meron should be able to pray on Mount Meron. We made every effort to improve the infrastructure on Mount Meron and whoever stopped doing so should be held accountable," he said.
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