Benjamin Netanyahu has put me on posters, hung me off bridges, and has talked about me constantly. To fan the flames, he did not shy away from blatant lies like “Lapid supported the nuclear deal” with Iran (he and I collaborated in the fight against the nuclear deal), and tried to paint me as a leftist even though he knows full well that I am a national-liberal centrist. During all of these weeks, I refused to cooperate. I’m not going to give Netanyahu the battle he wants. Why? Because I know why he wants it.

Netanyahu has opted for a personal defamatory quarrel to hide from the public his biggest venerability—the composition of the government he is trying to form. The government comprising United Torah Judaism, Shas, the Religious Zionist Party and Otzma Yehudit. He knows that even his most faithful followers are troubled by this possibility.

They know that this type of coalition will hold Likud prisoner—a captive of radical elements and subject to endless political extortion. His most important target electorate—undecided right-wing voters, look at this group and rightly ask themselves: Who in this government represents the working class, those who serve in the military and pay taxes? How will the international community react to a government whose members openly support the release of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir?

The Israeli public was outraged by the extortion of the ultra-Orthodox parties during the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s capitulation to it. Now they see Netanyahu racing into a government where there will be much more extortion and far more capitulation.

At this point, it is customary to say to me: “Stop talking about Netanyahu, tell us what you have to offer!” What we suggest is for the aforementioned not to happen. Instead of this dark and racist group, we will form a government that will work for the public—an honest, national-liberal government, one whose members are not implicated in criminal cases, free of radical forces and focused on health, the middle class and real solutions to real problems. A government that will restore the public’s trust because it will tell the public the truth and because it will show it that it is working hard for it out of a sense of mission.

One of the great secrets of this period is the fact that most Israelis actually agree on most things. The great ideological wars perished and disappeared. Yesh Atid’s goal is to bring back the sense of what connects us and allows us to work together.

A strong Yesh Atid will be able to form a coalition of national consensus that will deal with 80 percent of the things we agree on—not the 20 percent of the things on which we disagree. It will not deal with political quarrels but with improving the lives of Israelis and taking care of our children’s future. This seems far more important to me than another unnecessary political dispute.

Yair Lapid is the chairman of the Yesh Atid Party.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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