TEL AVIV – Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called Saturday for Israel to make the Palestinians “disappear” by building a “high wall,” and added that he is the only viable alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We need to get the Palestinians out of our lives. What we have to do is build a high wall and get them out of our sight,” Lapid told Channel 2’s “Meet the Press” program. “There will be no peace. We do not want two nations packed into a single state.”
Lapid also cited Channel 2’s own recent poll, which showed that his party would win 25 seats in the Knesset – the same as Netanyahu’s Likud – if elections were held today.
“We are keeping our perspective and humility, [but] we saw what the polls say,” he said. “For many months, Yesh Atid has been the sole alternative government, and ultimately if you look at the numbers no one can compete with the Netanyahu government but me.”
“We need to move forward,” he continued, criticizing the current government for neglecting the country’s periphery. “I was in Kiryat Shmona [on the border with Lebanon] and they have been forgotten. The political system is not interested in them. We are expressing real commitment to the future, not planning for five years.”
“I do not play a game in which I make offers to the residents of the State of Israel and then throw it all away in order to build a coalition,” the Yesh Atid leader said. “The political system cheated the citizens and I’m not ready to play this game. I think that the State of Israel should unite, [but] they are dividing us and pulling us to death. We have to live together and therefore if I do [win the elections] the first thing we will do is try to form the largest national coalition.”
Days after the poll was released, the Yesh Atid party called for early elections, saying “the citizens of Israel deserve more.”
“The government of Israel is entirely self-involved with its own political rifts and with anything but what is important to the citizens of Israel,” the statement read. “There have been no substantive discussions in any government body over where the country is heading: Not in the economic, social, diplomatic or security realms.”
Formed by former journalist and TV personality Lapid in 2012, the Yesh Atid party surprised the country by becoming the second largest party with 19 seats in the 2013 elections. In the 2015 elections, Yesh Atid dropped to 11 seats and left the coalition for the opposition.
Following Lapid’s interview with Channel 2, the ruling Likud party responded by attacking Lapid for pretending to be rightwing.
“No fancy interview is going to deceive the public. Everyone knows the truth: Yair Lapid is a staunch leftist,” Israeli news site Arutz 7 quoted a Likud representative as saying, adding that Lapid’s picks for top ministerial positions are from the left.
“Lapid thinks the Israeli public has forgotten the facts, but the public knows very well that Lapid is a leftist and that every mandate he receives will be handed over to the left in an attempt to topple a nationalist government led by the Likud.”
Last month, Lapid told the Jerusalem Post’s diplomatic conference that there is no “occupation” of the Palestinians.
He further attacked anti-Israel demonstrators in Europe for chanting “Free Palestine!” asking “What is their version of freedom?”
“Free the people who hang gays from telephone poles,” Lapid said. “Free the people who beat their wives. Free the people who want to kill Jews. Free the people who burn down churches. Free them. Don’t ask what stands behind them, don’t ask what they really want.”
He added that since 1995, the Palestinian Authority has “built a corrupt governing system without an effective judiciary or modern industry” and is effectively a “corrupt, brutal dictatorship.”
“The Palestinian education system poisons the minds of six- and seven-year-olds every single day with anti-Semitic propaganda of the worst kind,” he said. “That’s not freedom. When they tell their children that Jews are monkeys and pigs, they are not marching towards the liberation of Palestine, they are putting new chains on their own ankles.”