update deskIsrael at War

One day after Iranian attack, Lapid calls Israeli gov’t ‘existential threat’

"Our enemies look at this government, smell weakness and raise their heads," said Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid.

Yesh Atid Party head Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, April 15, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldbergl/Flash90.
Yesh Atid Party head Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, April 15, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldbergl/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has “destroyed” the country’s deterrence, opposition leader Yair Lapid charged on Monday, a day after an unprecedented attack on the Jewish state by Iran.

“This government, this prime minister, has become an existential threat to Israel,” Lapid told reporters ahead of his Yesh Atid Party’s faction meeting in Jerusalem. “They destroyed Israeli deterrence. Our enemies look at this government, smell weakness and raise their heads.”

Lapid, who recently returned from a multi-day visit to Washington, said Israel’s allies are also “appalled” by what he described as “the irresponsibility, the lack of professionalism, the failed management, the ingratitude” of the Netanyahu government.

In response, Netanyahu’s Likud Party noted that during his tenure as prime minister, Lapid had signed a “shameful surrender agreement” with the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group and “preferred to stay abroad this week while Israel was attacked.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu recognized the Iranian threat already decades ago and has been leading the global campaign against it ever since, in order to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons that constitute an existential threat to Israel,” added the Likud statement.

While caretaker premier, Lapid signed an October 2022 U.S.-mediated maritime deal with the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese government, which drew a border between the two countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs) based on a boundary known as Line 23.

The agreement awarded a disputed area of around 840 square kilometers (324 square miles) to Lebanon, while recognizing Israel’s claim to the Karish gas field and to royalties from the section of the Qana field that extends into the Jewish state’s EEZ.

“This agreement strengthens Israel’s security and our freedom of action against Hezbollah and the threats to our north,” Lapid said at the time, adding that “everyone has signed off on this agreement and its contribution to Israel’s security and our operational needs.”

He also suggested that by agreeing to the deal, Lebanon, an “enemy country,” was effectively recognizing Israel, and noted that the United States was providing Jerusalem with security and economic guarantees.

Iranian terror proxy Hezbollah has been engaged in near-daily attacks on Israel’s evacuated border region since joining the war in support of Hamas a day after the Oct. 7 invasion of the northwestern Negev.

The Islamic Republic launched hundreds of missiles, rockets and drones at the Jewish state on Saturday night, with the Israel Defense Forces and its allies shooting down most of them.

Lapid said on Monday that the U.S. assistance was “a practical realization of the Jerusalem Declaration that I signed with President Biden in July 2022.”

In a separate statement on X, Lapid called on government ministers to “stop talking and threatening Iran in the media.”

He also urged Benny Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot, who entered Netanyahu’s coalition in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, to help him “overthrow” the premier and establish a new government.

“We will form a government, and in this government they will have much more influence. Benny Gantz may be the prime minister. There is no citizen who would not welcome Eizenkot as Israel’s defense minister,” said Lapid.

Even if Gantz and Eizenkot’s National Unity Party left the government, as its former partner New Hope did last month, Netanyahu’s coalition would still have enough seats in the Knesset to remain in power.

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