Lapid: I haven't spoken with Shelah

Opposition leader comments on Shelah's plans to challenge him for Yesh Atid leadership: I'll defeat anyone who runs against me.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Ofer Shelah and Yair Lapid
Ofer Shelah and Yair Lapid
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Opposition leader and Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid said on Friday that he has not spoken recently with MK Ofer Shelah, after the latter declared his intention to run against Lapid for the party leadership.

"Where did it come from? You should ask him," Lapid said in an interview on the Ofira & Berkovic program, which airs on Channel 12. "I will never say bad things about Ofer Shelah, I will not say a bad word about him because I know and love his children. If he wants to say things about me, let him. The value of friendship is the most important thing and I am acting according to my values. Yes, it is disappointing, but I announced that in 2021 there will be internal elections for the position of Yesh Atid chairman. If anyone who wants to run against me from within and outside of the party, let them. I will defeat them all."

"Ofer has reached the age of 60 and he wants to succeed on his own," the chairman of Yesh Atid continued. "He has to decide with himself whether he wants to continue with us or not. I think there are plans outside the party, but until I talk to him, I will not know for sure. If I have anything to say to Ofer, I will say it directly to him, I will not send him messages on TV. I have been running a successful political body for many years, so you will have to trust me that I will know how to manage this as well."

Asked if he has spoken to Shelah recently, Lapid replied, "No, there is a complete disconnect. We will eventually get together and talk, but we need to let things cool down."

On the question of whether Shelah’s statements have weakened Yesh Atid, Lapid said, "It weakens us, it has already had an effect on the polls but we will come back. I will not let Yesh Atid become another party that deals with internal politics. But as I said, no one gives me an ultimatum except [my wife] Lihi Lapid."

Shelah recently called for Yesh Atid to hold primaries to determine the next leader of the party, while noting that "the party is not registered in [Lapid's] name."

A poll subsequently published on Radio 103FM found that Lapid does not have much to fear if he holds primaries for his party's leadership.

The poll, which was conducted by the Maagar Mochot Institute, found that 61% of Yesh Atid voters would still support Lapid if primaries were held today, compared to just 11% who would support Shelah.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)