After days of rising incitement and threats against politicians who are joining the coalition, the leader of the change bloc sought to reassure members of other parties on Monday: We represent you as well.
“I want to appeal to you, supporters of (Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu. I understand that, from your perspective, the establishment of this government is a huge crisis,” coalition leader Yair Lapid said in a speech on Monday. “But you will soon realize this government is not going to work against you. It will respect you. It’s also yours.”
“This is the government of the Likud, Shas, Torah Judaism and Religious Zionism voters,” he said naming four of the eight parties representing the coalition.
“You will find that we are honest, we respect your beliefs and opinions and are attentive to your needs,” he said.
Lapid said the incitement and threats against some of the politicians joining the coalition – and their children – is proof that Israel needs change.
“If our political culture is based on lies, threats, hatred of Arabs and hatred of left wingers – or hatred of right wingers who don’t adequately hate the Arabs and left wingers, then, yes – it is time for a change and we are bringing that change.”
“We don’t choose a violent minority that says, ‘Let’s go and burn down a synagogue.’ We believe in those who have the courage to say, ‘Let’s go renovate this synagogue together.’”
“We don’t choose a Judaism in which radical rabbis come and throw themselves into the political game and enlist incitement. We believe in Judaism that chooses life. And that’s what we’ve done. And that is what a majority of Israelis have chosen.”
Lapid also addressed supporters of the change government and encouraged them to reach out to those who disagree.
“This is the moment to unite the people of Israel. They are not our enemies,” he said.
The leaders of the change bloc sat together on Sunday and discussed Israel’s challenges in education and economics and how they plan to address them.
“I looked around and saw their determination. This government will be established,” he said. “This government will be good, this government will last. Because it is based on the right values: trust. For fairness and goodwill.”
Lapid's pacifying speech comes after a back-and-forth exchange on Sunday between Netanyahu and his likely successor Naftali Bennett in dueling press conferences.
Netanyahu took several swipes at the composition of the proposed coalition calling it “a dangerous left-wing government.”
Later on Sunday he said the “deep state is deep within this government,” using terminology famous in American politics and adding allegations of voter fraud for the first time since the March 23 election.
“Bennett is holding a fire sale on the country,” he said, claiming that votes had been “stolen from right [and given] to the left.”
He has also warned that should this government get sworn-in, “We in Likud ... will bring it down very quickly.”
Bennett said it was time for Netanyahu to gracefully transition out of power.
“Don’t leave scorched earth in your wake. We want to remember the good, the great deal of good you did during your service [as prime minister], and not, God forbid, a negative atmosphere you would leave upon your departure,” he said.
Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.