Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid ruled out on Wednesday that he would be part of an obstructive "blocking bloc” to prevent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from heading the next Israeli government.
Lapid, whose party made a surprise showing in Tuesday’s election and will be the Knesset’s second largest party, made a statement to the press on Wednesday evening during which he referred to attempts by Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich to form a bloc of center-left parties that would not recommend Netanyahu for Prime Minister.
Labor, though widely expected to be the Knesset's second largest party, made a poor showing in the elections and has only won 15 seats - just two more than the party won in 2009 under the leadership of Ehud Barak.
“Yesterday the citizens of Israel chose normalcy, sanity, hope, and the color returned to their cheeks,” said Lapid. "There’s confidence in our ability to work together.”
“I heard the press conference held by the Prime Minister and I was glad that he was talking about all the things we’ve talked about in the past year - equal sharing of the burden [Israeli expression signifying draft and national service, ed.], the middle class and what really matters to people who live here and love this place."
"I heard the talk about a bloc. I want to take this thing off the table - we’re not going to form a bloc with Hanin Zoabi,” stated Lapid. Zoabi is the Arab MK who joined the Mavi Marmara flotilla.
The remarks were a strong indicator that Lapid intends to enter Netanyahu’s government and play an integral role in it. Earlier on Wednesday, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman addressed Lapid’s being part of the coalition, calling him "a natural choice for finance minister."
“There is no doubt that with 19 Knesset seats, Lapid will be a senior member of the government," said Lieberman.
"I think that specifically Yair Lapid, who spoke a lot about the middle class and social protests, would naturally be in charge of domestic issues and would maybe be finance minister, but this is just speculation," he added.
It is not yet clear which portfolios Lapid will ask for during negotiations with the Likud. Commentators on Israeli television indicated on Wednesday that he may ask for the Foreign Ministry, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) MK Uri Ariel welcomed Lapid’s rejection of an “obstructive bloc” on Wednesday, saying, “I congratulate Yair Lapid for not going along with the destructiveness of the left, which wants to establish a bloc with Hanin Zoabi and Ahmed Tibi.”
“The public has spoken in favor of 'equal burden', a just economy and a strong society. The Jewish Home committed to these principles during the elections and we will use all our strength to work for that,” added Ariel.