With the Israeli Knesset voting to dissolve itself and head to its fifth election in just three years, the country will see Yair Lapid, who served as alternate prime minister and foreign minister in the outgoing government, become the Jewish state’s 14th prime minister.

However, there is a catch, Lapid is only slated to serve as prime minister until a new government is formed following elections. This temporary move is part of a coalition agreement between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett signed in June 2021, that saw Bennett serve as prime minister first before Lapid took over in a rotational agreement in 2023.

With the government’s collapse, that rotation timetable moved up and now Lapid will serve until a new prime minister is sworn in, which may be a while if past elections in Israel are any indicator.

Lapid is no stranger to Israelis, he has been the head of the center-left Yesh Atid, which he founded in 2012. Yesh Atid has consistently polled among the top five parties in Israel and is the second-largest party in the outgoing government.

He is also taking over at a pivotal time for Israelis. On the foreign policy front, Lapid will play host to U.S. President Joe Biden’s first official trip to the country as president in July, while the dual-threat of Iranian-backed terrorism and nuclear ambitions remain.

Here are five things to know about Israel’s newest prime minister.

  1. Political heir and media personality

Yair Lapid was born in Tel Aviv in 1963 to the playwright, novelist, and journalist Shulamit Lapid and journalist, politician, and Holocaust survivor Yosef “Tommy" Lapid. His father Tommy, who was born in former Yugoslavia to Hungarian-Jewish parents, was a prominent media personality in Israel and later a politician who headed the now-defunct secular-liberal Shinui Party from 1999-2006. Tommy Lapid served as Israel's justice minister, deputy prime minister, and opposition leader during his political career.

Like his father, Yair Lapid began his public career as a journalist and TV presenter, acted in movies and commercials, published 12 books, and wrote two television series. Lapid entered politics in 2012, founding the Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) liberal Zionist party.

In the 2013 election, Yesh Atid won the second-largest number of seats and entered into a coalition with a Likud-led coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where Lapid served as minister of finance. In 2020, Lapid became the opposition leader, serving until April 2021.

  1. Fostering strong Israel-Diaspora ties

As the architect of Israel’s outgoing government and foreign minister, Lapid sought to set a different tone with the United States than under previous Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In particular, Lapid sought to repair what he saw as “mistakes” that were made in the U.S.-Israel relationship and promised to fix them. For example, as foreign minister, he opposed legalizing the Israeli settlement outpost Evyatar, a move that he said could harm Israel’s relationship with the Biden administration.

“Looking back on Lapid’s term as Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, it is quite evident that he took his job very seriously. He met frequently with his counterparts; fostered a good relationship with [U.S. Secretary of State Antony] Blinken and succeeded to rehabilitate Israel’s relationship with the U.S. Democratic Party,” said Lt. Col. (Res.) Avital Leibovich, American Jewish Committee’s Jerusalem Director.

In one of his first meetings with Blinken in June 2021 as foreign minister, Lapid said that he had spoken with Democrats and Republicans since taking office and had “reminded them all that we share America’s most basic, basic values — freedom, democracy, free markets, and constant search for peace.”

Lapid has also long forged close ties with U.S. Jewish groups, including AJC.

He has twice appeared at AJC Global Forum, first in 2015 and then in 2022. At AJC Global Forum 2022, Lapid spoke about the global struggle between good and evil, with terrorism and violence on one side and freedom and democracy on the other. He also defined the common bonds shared by Jews throughout the world and reaffirmed the Israeli government’s commitment to Diaspora. 

  1. Disagreements behind closed doors

Lapid takes the helm under a crucial juncture for world powers as they seek to resume efforts to reach a new agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. Reports indicate that U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley is headed to Qatar for in-direct talks with Iran in a bid to revive the deal, which the Trump administration exited in 2018.

While Lapid has opposed the Biden administration’s efforts to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal, he stressed whatever their disagreements with the U.S., they plan to address them behind closed doors, rather than going public.

On Iran, Leibovich noted that Lapid “wants the IAEA condemnation to be the start of a process that will bring the Iranian nuclear file to the UN Security Council, ideally to ‘snap back’ sanctions, a step to stop Iran from enriching uranium diplomatically, which would go together with the growing regional partnership against the Iranian threat in case military action is needed.”

  1. Strengthening the Abraham Accords

As foreign minister, Lapid also worked to further strengthen and expand the Abraham Accords, a series of agreements that normalized ties between Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Sudan.

He made a number of historic visits during his tenure, becoming the first Israeli minister to visit the United Arab Emirates in June 2021, where he inaugurated the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi, then visited Morocco in August of that year, where he was the first Israeli minister to visit since 2003. He also opened the Israeli embassy in Bahrain in September 2021.

Later, Lapid played host to the top diplomats from  Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United States at the Negev Summit in March 2022.

  1. Laying the groundwork for negotiations with Palestinians

Lapid favors a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue. In 2019, Lapid laid out his vision on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which included a “separation” from the Palestinians, Israel remaining in security control of the West Bank, the Jordan Valley remaining in Israeli hands, no right of return for Palestinian refugees, and Jerusalem remaining undivided.

While Israel did not pursue peace talks under the Bennett-Lapid government, it enacted measures to improve Palestinians' daily life and strengthen the Palestinian Authority.

Leibovich said that as foreign minister Lapid “conducted several meetings with senior Palestinian officials in a possible attempt to lay the groundwork for negotiations” for when he was originally slated to become prime minister in 2023 under the rotation deal with Bennett.


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