Yair Lapid launched his campaign a little over a year ago. After relinquishing the post of TV host he set out to criss-cross the country, from one conference to the next; he went to one parlor meeting after another, appearing at every possible political panel and on every TV program. His message: I care for the middle class.
For Lapid, the equal sharing of the national service burden, education reform, affordable housing, and even the peace process, are all intertwined. As far as he is concerned, championing the middle class encapsulates all these issues and helps to create equality.
The message worked. Inspired by the social justice movement and the so called "suckers tent" that wanted to end the haredim's exemption from the military, Israelis flocked to the polls and cast a vote for Lapid. He promised change. They believed in him.
Lapid may now be captivated by the wonders of the Foreign Ministry. Frankly, you can't blame him for being lured by this highly prestigious portfolio and the chance to meet all the high and mighty. On Thursday, Lapid hinted that he would like to have his Yesh Atid party become the biggest party in the Knesset. Having emerged as the second largest party with 19 seats, he now harbors hope of becoming prime minister one day.
Lapid, who has never held any executive position, is probably reluctant to assume the post of defense minister in light of MK Amir Peretz's troubled experience there after he was appointed in 2006. There is no doubt that the post of foreign minister would give him diplomatic experience and elevate his stature in a way that would allow him to move to the next position.
You would think Lapid, whose campaign slogan was "Where is the money?" would naturally ask for the finance portfolio — because that's where the money is. This would allow him to make good on the promises he made throughout the campaign.
As finance minister, Lapid would have a unique opportunity to effect real change by setting new budgetary priorities. Of course, he would only be able to assume this role if Netanyahu lets this coveted role be assigned to someone outside his faction.
Top Likud officials have dismissed the notion that the Likud's small Knesset representation erodes Netanyahu's legitimacy as prime minister. They claim that three other parties have already declared that their preferred choice for premier is Netanyahu. These were Shas, Habayit Hayehudi and United Torah Judaism.
Likud officials believe that those who voted for these parties went into the polling stations with the intent of securing Netanyahu a third term in office. That means Netanyahu and the Right hold joint custody over those 61-votes that make up the right-of-center majority in the Knesset.
That explanation seems right. The Likud tried to disabuse voters from their false perception that there were two separate ballots, one for prime minister and one for their preferred party [a system that was in place between 1996 and 2001]. Alas, it failed in that regard.