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Lapid calls for immediate Netanyahu resignation

The opposition leader and former prime minister called for the formation of a ‘rehabilitation government’ that excludes far-right ‘extremists’

Nir Keidar/Anadolu via Getty Images

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 5: Former Prime Minister and Leader of the opposition Yair Lapid meet with families and relatives of hostages held in Gaza, November 5, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Forty days into Israel’s war against Hamas, opposition leader Yair Lapid called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign immediately. 

After previously saying he “won’t get into it while our soldiers are in Gaza,” Lapid told Israel’s Channel 12 on Wednesday that “Netanyahu has to go now because we cannot allow ourselves — for security, for society — [to have] a prime minister that lost the public’s trust.”

“We need a government that we can trust…a functioning government. I am willing to take myself, to take my party and enter a government that Likud will lead…I don’t think it’s right for us to go to an election now… What we need is to tell the Likud, ‘You lead. The prime minister will be from Likud, we’re willing to sit under him, it just can’t be Netanyahu,’” he said.

Lapid later detailed on X (formerly Twitter) that a “rehabilitation government” without Netanyahu would also exclude “the extremists,” meaning National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionist faction, his spokesman confirmed to Jewish Insider. While the army “came to its senses quickly” and civil society and the general public have been “inspiring” in their mobilization, “the government is the weak link,” he argued, referring specifically to continued pork-barrel funding known as “coalition money” and poor international public relations.

“I hear the voices that say this is not the time” to call for Netanyahu’s resignation, Lapid added. “We waited 40 days; we’re out of time. What we need already is a government that will deal with nothing but security and the economy.”

At the same time, he added, “we cannot allow ourselves to have another election in the coming year in which we continue fighting and explaining why the other side is a disaster.” 

Likud said in a statement regarding Lapid’s remarks that it is “unfortunate and shameful that Lapid is busy with politics during a war, calling to remove the prime minister leading the campaign and replace him with a government that will establish a Palestinian state and allow the Palestinian Authority to rule Gaza.”

Yesh Atid pointed out in a response statement that Lapid offered a government led by Likud.

Lapid’s comments come after weeks of very negative polling for Netanyahu — though some of those same polls say the public has little appetite for officially assigning responsibility for failures ahead of the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas while the fighting is still ongoing and prefers that Netanyahu resign after the war.

The government has also faced criticism from families of hostages held in Gaza and evacuees from Gaza border towns and northern border towns for insufficiently addressing their needs.

Upper Galilee Local Council head Giyora Saltz told Israel’s Channel 13: “All the citizens of Israel are in the biggest social experiment in the world, the first of its kind, with the research answering the question: Can a country function in wartime without a government?”

Leaders of smaller opposition parties, including Avigdor Liberman of Yisrael Beiteinu and Merav Michaeli of Labor, have already called on Netanyahu to resign.

Some pro-Netanyahu figures, such as his former head of public diplomacy, Ran Baratz, have said that Netanyahu should resign as soon as IDF reservists are sent home. Uri Dagon, head of news in the right-wing daily Israel Hayom, wrote a column calling on Netanyahu to “go as soon as possible.” However, politicians on the right have avoided calling for the prime minister’s ouster.
Netanyahu has avoided directly taking responsibility for the national security failures, saying that the time for asking such questions is after the war. Others in his government, such as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Education Minister Yoav Kisch and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, have taken responsibility, as has the head of the Shin Bet and other leading security figures.

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