Friday October 31, 2014
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31.10.2014
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Dan Margalit

Lapid as foreign minister?

On Tuesday night, right after the networks published their exit polls, it became clear that Israelis had voted resoundingly in favor of change; any low-level political pundit could tell you that. The Bible tells us that you cannot produce something old out of something new, but you can grow something new out of something old. Although our political environment may remain unchanged, it is now time to adopt a new mindset in how we manage matters and make decisions; it is time for some fresh faces to come to the forefront of the public service.

It is now paramount to shock the system in a way that affects both the coalition and the opposition. The Likud-Beytenu list has some soul searching to do; it must infuse its senior positions with new blood. This is no easy task, primarily because the ruling party will have fewer ministerial portfolios in the next government. As ministers Michael Eitan, Benny Begin, Moshe Kahlon and Dan Meridor were effectively shown the door, it is imperative to bring in young people who will truly represent other segments of the Likud party, in the spirit of the best-seller "New Face in the Mirror."

Labor cannot just hunker down in the opposition as if nothing happened. It ran a botched campaign, underscored by leader Shelly Yachimovich's problematic decision to categorically rule out a partnership with Likud and by its conduct in the wake of Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni's attempt to force other political allies to unite despite some dissent within Livni's own ranks over that move.

There are also calls among some Laborites to disavow the party's pledge not to enter a Likud-led government if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks the three center-left parties to serve as his senior partners.

And then there is the idea of appointing Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid as foreign minister. While this is a still a half-baked idea, it merits a close look. On the one hand, a celebrity who is elected to the Knesset is expected to focus on legislation and then possibly take a low-level ministerial portfolio before becoming the country's chief diplomat.

On the other hand, Tuesday's elections created unique circumstances that are a product of a political tectonic shift. The strong showing of Yesh Atid and the national religious Habayit Hayehudi party underscores just how massive this earthquake was. Such circumstances must not be allowed to dissipate without making a dent on our political system. Thus, sending Lapid to the Foreign Ministry, despite his inexperience on the world stage, would be appropriate.

Lapid comes off as positive and even sweet talking; this trait is a plus at the Foreign Ministry. Many view him as a darling of sorts. Israeli diplomacy would be well-served by his rhetorical skills after the rough talk emanating from Israel's envoys over the past years. Lapid may have laid the groundwork for his appointment on Wednesday by killing the pointless chatter about how a Knesset alliance could be found to deny Netanyahu the needed 61-member majority. He does not want the ultra-Orthodox in the government, but he wants to find a quick resolution that would end their de facto exemption from military service.

According to Channel 2's Rina Matzliach, there is currently a deal in the works that would let Shas MKs vote their conscience on such matters so long as they accepted the eventual outcome. If this is true, the shock and awe of Lapid's success must be seized without delay.

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