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Yair Lapid is an Israeli media personality, but a political newcomer, whose party did much better than expected against Benjamin Netanyahu.
The former TV talk show host will need to make strides on pressing economic ills and advance peace prospects with the Palestinians to avoid becoming another in a long line of centrists who have burst onto the political scene with great fanfare, only to flame out.
To avoid that fate, Lapid’s Yesh Atid movement may have to temper the lofty expectations of the Israeli public, and will surely need to produce concrete results in Israel’s Knesset, or parliament.
“Everyone at Yesh Atid is aware of the expectations and the responsibility which is upon us,” said Dov Lipman, an American-born rabbi and incoming lawmaker from Lapid’s party. “All of us, including our party leader, left other careers to enter the Knesset. We did so out of a sense of duty and a passion to change the country’s course, and we plan to rise to the mandate we have been given to do so.”
Pre-election polls predicted Lapid’s party would win about a dozen of 120 parliament seats. Instead, the party, running in its first election, emerged as the country’s second-biggest party with 19 seats. Israeli pollsters said a mass of undecided voters went with Lapid in the final days of the campaign, with roughly half of them coming from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s traditional base of support.