Yesh Atid (Future) chairman Yair Lapid, who can definitely be called “the surprise of the 2013 election”, spoke on Tuesday night of the “great responsibility” associated with being the Knesset’s second largest party.
Exit polls have predicted that Yesh Atid will surpass all its achievements in previous polls and will receive 18 to 19 seats, behind the Likud Beytenu with anywhere from 31 to 33.
“A heavy responsibility was placed our shoulders tonight and the State of Israel is facing serious challenges,” Lapid said in a victory speech at his party’s headquarters.
“Throughout the campaign there was one sentence that I was told again and again,” he added. “Everywhere I went someone stood up and said: ‘Do not forget us when you're there, do not be like all those who get elected and then forget.’ I will not forget.”
“We are here together, not at the expense of one another but with each other,” said Lapid, calling to form as broad a government as possible, uniting the moderate forces in the left and right “so we can really bring about a real change in Israel.”
With his party being the second largest, it is widely speculated that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will turn to Lapid and ask him to be a senior partner in his new coalition.
In his victory speech on Tuesday night, which ironically was made at the same time as Lapid was speaking, Netanyahu indicated that one of the principles of his new government would be promoting equal sharing of the burden. Lapid has advocated for this throughout his campaign.
“I see many partners in our mission and, by joining hands in a wide coalition we can succeed,” Netanyahu said, adding, “I believe that the results of the election are an opportunity to make the changes that the people of Israel are longing for.”
In a statement released shortly after exit polls were published, Netanyahu said that he had spoken to Lapid and told him that “we have an opportunity to do great things for Israel.”