TEL AVIV – Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Sunday morning vowed his party wouldn’t join a coalition with a prime minister who has been indicted on criminal charges.
Lapid’s remarks come in the wake of criticism aimed at one of his party members, MK Ofer Shelah, who failed to say that Yesh Atid wouldn’t join such a government.
In an answer that was slammed by the opposition Zionist Union party, Shelah only said it was not right to “boycott” someone, but added that “a prime minister under indictment cannot continue to serve in the position.”
Zionist Union translated Shelah’s comments to mean that Yesh Atid “will not hesitate” to sit in a government with Netanyahu at the head even in the case that charges are pressed against him.
Lapid, however, cleared up any misunderstandings by stating unequivocally that Yesh Atid would not back Netanyahu under any circumstances.
“To anyone who didn’t understand and mainly to those who insisted on not understanding: Yesh Atid will not be part of any government in which the prime minister faces an indictment,” he wrote on Twitter. “No ifs or buts.”
On Saturday, Shelah said, “I do not think it’s correct to boycott someone. The first thing you are asked about in Israeli politics is who are you boycotting.”
“The answer is: no one. We want a government headed by Yair Lapid with the main parties in Israel,” he added.
Later, when pressed again about whether his party would consider joining a Netanyahu-led government Shelah only stated that “a prime minister under indictment cannot continue to serve in the position.”
Afterward, Zionist Union said in a statement that “if anyone had any doubt, [Yesh Atid chairman] Yair Lapid and his colleagues will not hesitate to sit with Netanyahu, even if indictments are filed against him.”
“They are not partner to anything. Those who pretend to lead the fight against corruption cannot afford double standards on the subject. We pledge to replace the corrupt, not to embrace them with open arms,” it added.
Last week, a Channel 10 survey showed that were elections to be held today, Yesh Atid would win 24 seats (up 13 from its current 11), while Avi Gabbay’s Zionist Union party would plummet to 12 seats from 24.
Netanyahu’s Likud would win 29 seats, only one less than it currently has, the poll found.
The so-called Case 4000 involves telecommunications company Bezeq. Filber reportedly claims to have been ordered by the prime minister to ease regulations on Bezeq in return for the phone company’s chief shareholder Shaul Elovitch giving Netanyahu positive coverage on his news site Walla.
Case 1000 charges Netanyahu and his wife Sara with receiving illegal gifts from billionaire benefactors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu is suspected of striking a deal with media mogul Arnon (Noni) Mozes whereby the premier would weaken the Sheldon Adelson-backed daily Israel Hayom in return for more favorable coverage in Mozes’ Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. In his defense, Netanyahu said that he specifically voted against the law that would have weakened Israel Hayom, risking his political career in 2014 and calling new elections because of it.
Case 3000 links aides to the prime minister to possible corruption involving a multi-billion-shekel deal to purchase submarines from a German shipbuilder.