Addressing supporters of his newly formed Yesh Atid (There is a future) party at his first political rally, ex-journalist Yair Lapid laid out his political platform ahead of expected early elections.
From the beginning he spelled out his intention to redress the unequal social burden in Israel and the exemption of ultra-Orthodox Jews from military service. He added that he would reach out to ultra-Orthodox rabbinical leaders over the heads of the ultra-Orthodox politicians. “We are not against you. Don’t believe anyone that says that we hate you,” he said. “But we can’t do national service alone… Everyone must serve.”
Lapid vowed to legislate for universal service — either in the army or other national service — to replace the Tal Law, which was struck down earlier this year by the High Court as unconstitutional. At a rally attended by some 300 supporters in Tel Aviv, he proposed a five-year exemption to all ultra-Orthodox conscripts. After this period, a mechanism for alternative service of two years will be introduced and will be compulsory to all Israelis.
Polls suggest Yesh Atid party could win some 12 seats in the next elections. Were Tzipi Livni, the former Kadima leader who quit the Knesset yesterday, to join, that number could rise to 16.
“I am entering politics to fix things, and I’ll stay in politics until these changes are achieved. Politics is my second career after the media, and I will not have a third,” said Lapid. Earlier this week, Lapid also said he was “not entering politics in order to sit in the opposition, strongly hinting at the fact he would attempt to join in on a coalition agreement following elections, the date of which is expected to be announced next week.