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Israeli centrist leader speaks, says little

The measured response of Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid to the state comptroller’s Gaza war report reflects his ongoing strategy to become Israel's next prime minister.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid attends a women's committee convention in Tel Aviv March 1, 2015. The era of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ending, with Israeli voters clearly more concerned about economic and social issues than about security or fears over Iran, a leading election candidate said on Monday. Lapid, a telegenic former news anchor and TV host, leads the centrist, secular Yesh Atid party ("There's a Future"), which emerged out of the cost-of-living protests that swept Israel in 2011. Picture
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In the Feb. 20 season opener of “Eretz Nehederet,” Israel’s most popular satirical television program, the actor playing Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid interrupts a political panel in the studio and asks, “What about me? You don’t have a character for me?” The host, Eyal Kitzis, responds that that is indeed the case, because Lapid hasn’t said anything significant in the past six months. Ouch.

Lapid, if one is to believe his advisers, laughed at the joke at his expense. Perhaps uncoincidentally, four days later Lapid interrupted his six-month drought of interviews to appear on “Ulpan Shishi,” the weekly news program on Channel 2. Lapid, whom polls predict to win the next election, has made rare and measured appearances in the media in recent months as part of his strategy to avoid making unforced errors and preserve the status quo. The price of such conduct, however, is the image of someone trying to curry favor among the general public at the expense of clear policies and meaningful positions.

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