Yair Lapid will not be Israel’s next ruler. But he is the power behind the throne.
Mr. Lapid completed his military service as a writer for a military magazine, then followed in his father’s footsteps as a professional journalist. In the 1990s, he slipped between several illustrious positions within Israel’s cultural establishment, balancing his column with a TV talk show, while starring in a handful of films, writing novels and even writing plays. theater and television dramas.
By the 2000s, Mr. Lapid had become one of Israel’s best-known television hosts and commentators, renowned for his non-combative questioning style and middle columns.
He began planning a political career towards the end of the decade and, in 2012, formed his own centrist and secular political party, Yesh Atid, or “There is a Future”. He unexpectedly took second place behind Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud in the 2013 general election, entering a coalition government led by Netanyahu, and Mr. Lapid became finance minister.
Mr Lapid was neither the first nor the latest newcomer to attempt to break the mold of Israeli politics with a new centrist party. But for Mr. Lapid’s early political allies, there was a dynamism in his brand of centrism which they saw as original.
“I felt like I could come home,” said Yael German, once mayor of a leftist party, Meretz, who later joined Yesh Atid and became one of its first lawmakers. “It was all I thought about – putting limits on religious parties, talking about civil marriage, LGBT rights, abandoning the occupied territories, two states for two peoples.”
Meretz “has always been too much left for me, too extreme,” Ms. German added. “But Yair wasn’t.”
For Mr. Lapid’s critics, however, there was a lack of depth in his politics and an arrogance in his manners. What the allies saw as an ability to bridge the gap between left and right, others saw a lack of ideological clarity. The satirists created a website, known as “Lapidomator,” which allowed users to generate meaningless statements on a given topic – poking fun at the perceived emptiness of Mr. Lapid’s ideas.