A leader for all Israelis? Yair Lapid becomes interim prime minister

Now Lapid will be at the very center of his attention – as the acting prime minister of Israel.

Lapid officially took over as interim prime minister on Friday after the country’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a self-dissolution law a day earlier.

media celebrity

Despite his brief acting career, Lapid has become a mainstay in Israeli living rooms thanks to the news. After briefly working as a print journalist, he broke into television in the mid-1990s, hosting one of the biggest talk shows of the era.

But in 2012, Lapid changed course, following in the footsteps of his journalist-turned-politician father. He created a new political party, dubbed Yesh Atid (There is a Future), and positioned himself as the centrist voice of the Israeli middle class, focusing on domestic issues. He vowed to cut housing costs, repeal ultra-Orthodox exemptions from military conscription, and legalize same-sex marriage.

“All (our supporters) are united by the fact that they said “yes” for the sake of hope, “yes” because of mutual responsibility and “yes” because the truth does not cling to any side,” Lapid said at the time.

Centrist for all

In his first campaign, Lapid tried to portray his party as one that all Israelis could be a part of, even making his diplomatic platform public from a settlement in the occupied West Bank. He supports an independent Palestinian state but says East Jerusalem should not be its capital. He opposes the building of new settlements, but says large existing settlement blocks should always be part of Israel.

“Yair Lapid is the quintessence of Tel Aviv, Israel’s main secular city, its main business and cultural center, the center of nightlife and so on,” Christian Amanpour Anshel Pfeffer, a correspondent for Haaretz and The Economist, told CNN.

Is there a way out of the endless cycle of elections in Israel?

“Many Israelis, including Israelis who were close to his centrist, possibly left-wing politics and views, including many of my colleagues in the Israeli media, did not take him seriously. it will be a passing phase.”

But Lapid’s party shocked the Israeli political establishment by winning 19 seats in the 2013 elections, trailing only Netanyahu’s Likud. Lapid has been named Israel’s new political star, and Time magazine named him one of the “100 Most Influential People of 2013”.

He then joined Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government as finance minister, but was fired less than two years later and became one of the leaders of the opposition.

Most Diverse Coalition

In 2021, after four inconclusive elections in two years, it was Lapid who was the architect of the coalition that would eventually topple Netanyahu and end his longest-serving term as Israeli prime minister.

By bringing together parties from the entire political spectrum, from the extreme left to the right, and even including the first Arab party in the ruling coalition, the new government gained a majority in one seat.

But this came at a cost to Lapid’s own political ambitions. As part of a deal to appoint right-wing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Lapid did not take over as prime minister until two years later.

“Lapid put together this very cumbersome, almost unimaginable, unprecedented coalition of eight parties (and) managed to get them all to vote for Naftali Bennett as prime minister, managed to keep them all year long, and above all, for many Israelis, he is now the only person in the last 12 years to defeat Netanyahu is a great achievement in itself,” Pfeffer said.

Lapid was appointed Foreign Minister where he traveled the world meeting world leaders and, in particular, Israel’s new allies from the Arab states. It was in Lapid that the historic summit in the Negev took place, at which, in March 2022, the highest diplomatic representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and the United States met for the first time in southern Israel.

But ultimately, it was the coalition’s ideological diversity that was also the source of its fragility. He lost his parliamentary majority when two members of Bennett’s right-wing party defected. And when some on the left refused to support a recurring bill that, among other things, gives Israeli settlers in the West Bank the same civil rights as Israeli citizens, the coalition hit a political stalemate.

In a shocking move, Lapid and Bennett announced last week that they would dissolve their own government and hold new elections, making Lapid the interim prime minister.

Standing together in solidarity, Lapid told Bennett “I love you” and this moment of external romance surprised many in the Israeli media.

Lapid will become the first wrong-wing Israeli prime minister in more than a decade. Now he has four months to convince the public that he should keep the job. Elections will be held on November 1st.

Digest

Unilever sells Israeli business to Ben & Jerry after controversy

Unilever sold my Ben & Jerry’s business in Israel for an undisclosed amount to American Quality Products (AQP), which distributes Ben & Jerry’s in the country, after controversy related to its operations in Israel and the West Bank. Critics have accused the company of doing business in Israel, especially in the West Bank settlements, which are considered illegal under international law, arguing that it does not fit Ben & Jerry’s liberal image. Ben & Jerry’s will now be sold under their Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank.
  • Background: On Wednesday, Unilever said it “used the opportunity of last year to listen to perspectives on this complex and sensitive issue and believes this is the best result for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.” However, the ice cream company tweeted that he disagreed with Unilever’s statement. “We continue to believe that selling our ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values,” he tweeted, adding that he would no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.
  • Why is it important: The sale ends a long saga that has angered ice cream lovers on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also highlights the challenges facing consumer brands doing business in the region.

Egyptian court sentences man to death accused of killing 21-year-old student

The man accused of fatally shot a woman last week after she rejected his advances, an Egyptian state court sentenced her to death, state-run Al Ahram news agency reported on Tuesday.
  • Background: The verdict, after two court hearings, will be referred to Egypt’s highest Islamic authority, the Grand Mufti, which is a formality in the country’s death penalty cases, Al-Ahram said. The final verdict will be announced on July 6. Under Egyptian law, the verdict can still be appealed to the Egyptian Court of Cassation.
  • Why is it important: The murder of a woman, Naira Ashraf, was caught on film in broad daylight and shocked the Arab world as activists called for justice and greater protection for women.

Erdogan says Sweden promised to extradite 73 people as part of NATO deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sweden promised Turkey to extradite 73 people as a result of a memorandum that was signed at the NATO summit in Madrid between Sweden, Finland and Turkey. By signing the agreement, Turkey has agreed to support Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership bids, removing the last major obstacle to the two countries’ entry into the alliance. “If the promise is not kept, we will do whatever is necessary in the agreement,” Erdogan said at a press conference on Thursday, adding that Turkey would not ratify the agreement.

  • Background: Turkey has previously said it will veto Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bids, claiming they are harboring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which Turkey, the EU and the US designate as a terrorist organization. The 10-article memorandum states that Sweden and Finland will respond to Turkey’s requests for the extradition of terrorist suspects in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition.
  • Why is it important: Sweden and Finland officially abandoning decades of neutrality and joining NATO will be a historic breakthrough for the alliance and will deal a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

By region

View of Saint Hilarion, another archaeological site in the Gaza Strip, on June 8.  The Saint Hilarion website is also maintained by the French NGO Premiere Urgence Internationale.

An ancient tomb dating back to 2400 AD has been discovered by archaeologists in the Gaza Strip, showing the coastal enclave’s rich history.

Located on the coast of northern Gaza, the tomb is an important find for the Palestinians living in the area.

The tomb is part of a larger Roman cemetery that was accidentally discovered earlier this year, said Jehad Abu Hassan, field coordinator for Gaza at Premiere Urgence Internationale, a French NGO that helps preserve Gaza’s heritage. “For the first time, a Roman cemetery has been found in Gaza.” The NGO also supported work at another archaeological site in central Gaza called Saint Hilarion.

It is not uncommon for relics to be found in this region due to its historical and geographical importance, which meant that various civilizations moved through the area over the centuries.

The tomb is part of an ongoing archaeological excavation that has been underway for several months and, according to Abu Hasan, 40 graves have been found.

“It’s great that we are protecting and preserving this rich heritage of Gaza for future generations,” he told CNN. “When we talk to children about their heritage, they are very happy that people come from all over. [to Gaza]. ”

According to a Palestinian official in Gaza, the tombs stand out because of the social status of the people they belonged to.

“Some of the graves were decorated with elegant decorations,” said Mohammed Halla, Gaza’s deputy minister of tourism and antiquities, in an interview with the Quds Press news agency. “Which indicates that they belonged to figures who at that time had a social and administrative status in Roman society.”

According to Quds Press, the ministry said it was in the process of securing the necessary funding to save the site.

Interest in the protection of the tomb arises from its location near Anthedon Harbor (Blahia), the first port of Gaza and a landmark that played a decisive role in connecting the territory to Europe thousands of years ago.

Ghazi Nasser

Photo of the day

Iraqi Kurdish musicians perform at a concert with the Iranian musical group Sarmast at the Erbil Citadel in Erbil, the capital of northern Iraq's Kurdish Autonomous Region, June 30.