Efforts by Yair Lapid to rebrand himself as a centrist or even a rightist are in vain, the Likud said Sunday. “Even the most friendly Channel Two interview for Lapid will not fool the public,” the party said in a statement. “Everyone knows the truth – that Lapid is a solid leftist, who for years espoused a leftist agenda in his column in Yediot Achronot, and is an advocate for the left on countless public panels and debates.”
The issue came up when Lapid was asked in an interview on Channel Two broadcast Motzoei Shabbos about comments by Likud coalition chairman David Bitan, who, in a weekend political panel, said that he would prefer if Israeli Arabs did not vote, because the party they voted for en masse – the United Arab List – was not serving them, or Israel, properly. Lapid said that Bitan was misrepresenting the Right with such comments.
“The National Camp would never act this way,” he said. “I grew up in the National Camp, they would never have done this. And that is even before we have begun to discuss the damage that such statements do to Israel in the world. In a normal country the government would not last 24 hours after such remarks are made, but here they are made over and over.”
In its response, the Likud denigrated the notion of Lapid as part of the “National Camp” saying that it was “laughable. His candidate for Defense Minister is Ofer Shelach, an enthusiastic supporter of groups like Breaking the Silence, which hound IDF soldiers at the checkpoints. The senior members of his party are Yael German, the former Herzilya mayor who was a member of Meretz. Another member is Yaakov Peri, who participated in a propaganda film that defamed Israel and the defense work done by the Shin Bet around the world.”
In the interview, Lapid pointed to recent polls which show that the public saw him as “the only alternative to the current government. According to the numbers, I am the only one who can compete with Binyamin Netanyahu.” The Channel Two poll Lapid was referring to pegged both the Likud and Lapid’s Yesh Atid party as receiving 25 Knesset seats.