Lapid: What Prime Minister poses with a can of pickles?

Head of second-largest party in the opposition says Israeli government is ignoring national matters in order to defend PM Netanyahu.

Hezki Baruch,

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Flash 90

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid on Monday attacked the Israeli government for busying themselves with "saving" Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instead of dealing with national issues.

"I want to tell you the list of topics that the government has not dealt with this week," Lapid said. "It has not dealt with education, with violence against medical staff, public transportation, or retirement age for women. It has not dealt with the fact that we don't have enough engineers, the cost of living, or with the gaps between different sectors of society."

"What is the government dealing with, then? It is dealing with Netanyahu, with laws intended to save Netanyahu, with threats that sound like they are coming from criminals, and with the coalition's internal conflicts. It is dealing with the unending interviews of those close to Netanyahu, who think only of Netanyahu's personal good."

Police are looking into gifts from wealthy supporters of Netanyahu and suspicions he sought a secret deal with Arnon (Noni) Mozes, the publisher of leftist newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

A proposed bill could shield future prime ministers from investigation during the time they are in office. Though both Lapid and former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon insist this bill is intended to "save" Netanyahu, it was never intended to, and will not, protect Netanyahu during his current term.

"I have known Netanyahu for many years. He was never this way. He used to be stately, he used to be serious. In the past, he knew to put Israel's good before his own personal benefit. I looked at the picture he publicized, with a can of pickles. The Israeli Prime Minister took a picture of himself with a can of pickles. Why? Because he wants to make fun of the opposition. He wants to show how he's hurt us, how he scorns us. Is this how a Prime Minister is supposed to act? Is this how the leading party is supposed to ask? Is this the country we want? Is this the dialogue we want to see in Israeli society? Don't we have enough problems? Don't we have enough external enemies?"

Last week, Netanyahu slammed the opposition "soreheads" in a speech. The Hebrew word he used for "soreheads" was "hamutzim," or pickles. In the Facebook post accompanying the picture, Netanyahu wrote, "We have a great nation that loves to eat pickles - but we're not sour!"

PM Netanyahu and a can of pickles
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Facebook page

Lapid also claimed that the Israeli government functions like a reality show.

"We live in a world where those who break the rules - especially those who show they don't care if they ruin things - have an advantage," he said. "It started with reality shows, and it reached politics. It began elsewhere in the world, and now it's affecting Israel as well. Except that Israel cannot allow itself to function this way. This isn't the 'Big Brother' reality show. The Prime Minister cannot continue acting as if they shut him up in his house and he needs to slander everyone in order to come out on top. Israel is a complex country. We have serious problems, and we have to deal with them in a serious fashion."

Calling on Israel's ministers to stand up to the political system's corruption, Lapid said, "Israel is a complex country. We have serious problems, and we have to deal with them in a serious fashion. There are enough honest people who care in the coalition, enough people who put the State of Israel at the top of their priority lists. What we have seen in the past week cannot continue. Ministers Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), Gilad Erdan (Likud), Yisrael Katz (Likud), and Gila Gamliel (Likud) cannot continue to act as if they are from the United Nations. They need to decide whether they will fight the political system's corruption, or whether they will support it. We have a country, and everything keeping our country together is under attack. There are attacks on the police, on the court, on the President, on the Attorney General, on the State Comptroller, and on the media's independence."

"Someone must create the voice of honesty, the voice of sanity, the voice of the private citizen who wants a government and leadership which does not just worry about their own interests. I call on all the aforementioned ministers to work together, and to announce that they will not support the bill forbidding the investigation of a sitting Prime Minister. I call on them to announce that they will not support forbidding the police from doing their job and making recommendations, that they are not willing to be part of a government whose entire purpose and justification for existence is to deal with the personal problems of Binyamin Netanyahu.

"I am telling you ahead of time that we will work together with them to protect the rule of law and to protect Israel's statehood."

In December 2016, Lapid said he is "the only alternative to Netanyahu."

"No one can compete with Netanyahu but me," he said then. "For many months, we have been the sole alternative government."

In January, a poll showed Lapid's party as gaining 27 seats while Netanyahu's Likud won only 23. However, a more recent poll showed the Likud would receive 26 seats while Yesh Atid would receive 21.

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