Exclusive interview:
Lapid: I never spoke out against government while abroad

Yesh Atid Chairman Lapid says US Pres. Trump's actions have been a 'blessing,' Israel can't afford to ignore 'majority' of American Jews.

Hezki Baruch, Yoni Kempinski , | updated: 1:41 PM

MK Lapid speaks to Arutz Sheva
MK Lapid speaks to Arutz Sheva
Arutz Sheva

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid on Monday morning spoke with Arutz Sheva about his party's stance, promising that Yesh Atid would win more Knesset seats in the next election than the leading Likud.

"You always need to do soul-searching, but there's no special reason to do soul-searching on this issue," Lapid told Arutz Sheva at the beginning of the interview. "We have to continue doing what we've been doing and what we believe in."

Lapid also said that claims his party zigzags are "fake news."

"I don't zigzag, that's just fake news," he said. "We are the most consistent party in Israel."

"We're part of the nationalist camp," he continued. "The division between 'them and us' eats away at Israeli society. Within the 'we,' I am in a centrist party. The issue in Israel is not right or left, but a leadership issue, and that's what we're trying to fix."

He also said that Yesh Atid is "trying to be the voice of sanity in a country that is not known for having a voice of sanity," and said his party are "moderate liberals."

"Israel's political system right now works for itself. Discussion centers around splits, and that's what you and I need to stop. I will know how to deal with security no less than this government does."

Laughing at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's statement that the Likud party aims for 40 Knesset seats, Lapid said, "He's not going to have 40 Knesset seats, and he won't have 30, either. It's not going to happen. I sat in a Netanyahu government. Something has happened to him. You need to shake his hand and tell him, 'Thank you, but it's enough.'"

However, Lapid emphasized that even though the people he meets during international tours know he's Netanyahu's "biggest rival," he has "never attacked Netanyahu or the government" while abroad.

"As the British says (sic), it's not done," he said.

Lapid also noted that he is open to joining a coalition with any party, including the haredim.

"I don't rule anyone out," he said.

Regarding Israel's relationship with the US, Lapid noted that "seventy-some to eighty percent of American Jews are Democrats. We are losing the Democratic party."

"If for example, the Democratic party is going to win the House in the mid-term election, we're in deep trouble. Because we have now an Israeli government who is considered to be almost an affiliation (sic) of the Republican party.

"I think [US] President [Donald] Trump is a great supporter of Israel, I think the things he's done are [a] blessing: moving the embassy, cancelling the nuclear agreement with Iran... But we cannot ignore half the American public and we cannot ignore the majority of American Jews, because in the long term, this is disastrous."

Regarding a two-state solution, Lapid said, "I'm against a one-sided annexation. Are we going to annex Shechem (Nablus - ed.) and Ramallah? The settlement blocs need to remain in Israel's hands, and only then can we annex."

"The settlers don't need to worry about how I'll act as Prime Minister. We're not against them. My son just joined Ariel University, and you're the first one I'm telling that to."

Though Lapid is in favor of annexing settlement blocs, he has also clearly stated his willingness to sacrifice what he calls "isolated settlements."

Turning to Arutz Sheva's readers, Lapid said, "We need to have a year in which we don't break the country apart and point fingers at enemies. May we have a year of togetherness."