Page 3 Profile: Yair Lapid, Israeli politician


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The Independent Online

Why is he in the news?

Mr Lapid, a well-known television personality in Israel, founded the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party only last year. Yet the charismatic former journalist and his colleagues defied expectations to win 19 seats in this week's election, becoming the second-largest party in parliament. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-Beitenu alliance took 31 of 120 seats, and he is expected to form a new coalition in the coming weeks.

Will Lapid be a minister?

Following the exit polls, Mr Netanyahu telephoned Mr Lapid and offered to work with his rival, saying: "We have the opportunity to do great things together." But Mr Lapid is determined not to be marginalised or turned into a junior coalition partner. He has demanded a reversal of the law which allows Orthodox Jewish seminary students to defer military service, as well as a concerted effort to revive peace talks with the Palestinians – something Mr Netanyahu has not been particularly keen on.

Why did his party do so well?

It's easy to compare Mr Lapid with our very own Robert Kilroy-Silk – both were popular television figures who went on to found political parties. But whereas Kilroy-Silk's right-wing Veritas party foundered, Mr Lapid is riding a wave of success. The 49-year-old began his career as a military correspondent for the Israel Defence Forces' magazine, worked his way up to becoming a newspaper editor and moved into television. Like his father, who went from being a journalist to leading the Shinui party, his secular policies have attracted considerable support among the middle-clases.