Analysis: Secular champion at odds with ultra-orthodox

Share this article
Have your say

POLITICAL newcomer Yeir Lapid’s criticism of the ultra-orthodox being funded from Israel’s public coffers harkens back to his father, Yosef Lapid, who led the secularist Shinui party as a coalition partner to Ariel Sharon in 2003.

At the same time, his stress on bettering the middle class evokes the social protest movement of 2011 when hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets over the high cost of living and income inequalities.

Mr Lapid’s agenda could clash with that of the settlers, something foreshadowed in a 2010 opinion piece he wrote. “Four per cent of residents can’t decide they know what’s right for the country,” he wrote, adding that the settlers were costing Israel its global standing.

He added that most Israelis do not want to live in a bi-national state, which would be the outcome of annexing the West Bank. Israelis within the country’s pre-1967 borders were paying a price for the settlers in that spending on settlements “could have been used for education, health and building roads,” he wrote.

However, it remains to be seen whether he will insist upon his views translating into policy, especially if the pro-settler Jewish Home party is a partner in coalition. And even if he does, it may not influence Benjamin Netanyahu, who has ignored his conditional acceptance in 2009 of the idea of a Palestinian state.