Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who is set to become interim prime minister with the Knesset's dispersal, warned on Wednesday of Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu teaming up with far-right elements as Israel is poised for an early election.
Speaking at Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economics and Society, Lapid zeroed in on MK Itamar Ben Gvir, a firebrand member of the ultranationalist Religious Zionist Party, who he argues is more powerful than Netanyahu and is being used by the Likud leader to escape justice in his ongoing corruption trial.
"The extremists are playing the victim instead of working. The most powerful person, the biggest threat in the opposition, is Ben Gvir, and not [Netanyahu]," he said.
"His message is violence, pure racist nationalism. Netanyahu knows he can't evade his trial so he depends on Ben Gvir entirely. The extremists campaign on steamrolling everybody, tearing down the Knesset and getting rid of all rights.
They hate LGBT, they hate Arabs. Israelis have chosen the common good, which isn’t an easy choice, it should be difficult. You must have much grit to balance the different concerns. Our government is anything but an experiment. The extremists believe yelling louder would get them to victory; they’re wrong.
Macron won again in France. Before Biden beat Trump, he was accused of being too moderate. The moderates win, the extremists don’t know how to run a country. They failed because hatred is a lousy work plan. Our government is a decision on a new Israeli agenda. Our mission is to make those who think differently cooperate. Running a country is a serious matter, this is statecraft – taking responsibility; understanding that nothing is handed to you."
Lapid is working to expedite the Knesset's dispersal to prevent Netanyahu from trying to form an alternative government in the current legislature.
A bill to that end has already passed in a preliminary vote and Lapid hopes to make it into law by next Wednesday.