According to polls prior to Jan. 22 elections, the candidate for a surprise win in Israeli politics was supposed to be Naftali Benett, the leader of the right-wing Jewish Home (Ha Bayit Ha Yehudi). The surprise came from former TV journalist Yair Lapid and his centrist Future Party (Yesh Atid). Despite estimates showing 10-12 seats he won 19 seats in the 120 seat Israeli Parliament, Knesset, and became the second biggest party after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud coalition with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Our Home (Yisreal Beitenu), which could only collect 31 seats in total.
Lapid is a moderate by Israeli standards and focused more on economic problems, in support of more dialogue with Palestinians and less enmity with the neighborhood. It is a correction for Israeli politics that has been in a continuous lean to the right. (In the same sense it is a correction to the intro of this author’s piece on Jan. 23 that suggested further rightist lean considering early results.) Lapid’s success, together with left-wing Meretz’s 6 seats (instead of 3 suggested by earlier polls) showed that voters had need of a counterbalance in Israel’s politics.
If Lapid gets into the coalition and takes the Foreign Ministry, this move may positively change the balance in Israel’s relations with TurkeyMurat Yetkin