Following news anchor Yair Lapid's dramatic announcement on Sunday that he was leaving Channel 2 in favor of the political arena, the big question now is who will join him in the upper echelons of the party he will lead into the next elections.
Over the past few months Lapid has held discussions with a number of individuals and has piqued their interest in joining him in the political arena. His right-hand man in the process of creating a new party is Uri Shani, who served as bureau chief for former prime minister Ariel Sharon. Now that Lapid has decided to enter politics, rumors have begun to spread about his potential political partners.
Among the names being mentioned -- and one of the first people approached by Lapid -- is Rabbi Shai Piron, head of Yeshivat Hesder Petach Tikva (which combines Torah study with army service). According to speculation, Rabbi Piron, who belongs to the moderate branch of the religious Zionist camp, has already agreed in principle to join.
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Another person Lapid has met is Herzliya Mayor Yael German, who has served in her post for 14 years and is a former member of the Meretz party.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Moshe Kaplinsky has also been mentioned as a possible Lapid ally. Kaplinsky is a former GOC Central Command and deputy chief of general staff, and is current CEO of electric car company Better Place. Lapid has also met with former Jerusalem Police Chief Maj. Gen. Mickey Levy. Other names that have been mentioned are Karnit Goldwasser, widow of the late Ehud Goldwasser (who was abducted and killed in a Hezbollah raid in 2006); Holon Mayor Moti Sasson; Environmental Protection Ministry director-general Alona Karo, and journalist Ofer Shelah, who has previously hinted he may join Lapid in politics.
There has also been speculation that outgoing Teva Pharmaceutical Industries CEO Shlomo Yanai, who recently announced he would step down in May 2012, could also join Lapid's ranks. Yanai has already expressed his desire to become a public servant and was quoted a month and half ago as saying, "Lapid can restore sanity to the country." In addition, Keshet TV’s outgoing Public Relations Manager, Maya Karvat, is rumored to be joining Lapid as his chief of staff. Karvat's response was not available as of press time.
According to speculation, Lapid may also prefer to join an existing, yet inactive, party and run on its ticket rather than create a new one, which requires complex legal procedures. An existing, and apparently available, party for him is the "Arrow" ("Hetz") party created by former interior minister Avraham Poraz. The Arrow party splintered from the Shinui party, created by Lapid's father Tommy Lapid, and did not pass the election threshold in 2006.
If Lapid does decide to use that party he will need to come to an agreement with Poraz, who said on Sunday: "Yair hasn't spoken to me. In my opinion he would prefer to create a new party, and he has enough time to do so."
If Lapid decides to "take over" the Arrow party he can change its name, its platform and regulations. According to sources close to Lapid, one option for a name is "The Israelis."
Current MKs were quick to react on Monday to Lapid's decision. Former Vice Premier Haim Ramon (Kadima) congratulated him on the move into the public arena, saying he hoped more good people would enter politics. Meretz MKs Zahava Galon and Nitzan Horowitz also wished Lapid success in his new career in politics.
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