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Yair Lapid to boycott Israel’s main Independence Day ceremony

The opposition leader accuses the government of trying to “dismantle democracy.”

Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, April 9, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, April 9, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said on Wednesday that he plans to boycott the traditional torch-lighting ceremony marking the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day celebrations.

Israel on April 25-26 will mark its 75th anniversary.

In a message to Transportation Minister Miri Regev, Lapid accused the current government of “dismantling democracy” amid a fierce debate over its judicial reform initiative.

“I love the country with all my heart, but in three months you tore apart Israeli society and no fake fireworks show will cover that up. If the unity of the people was so important to you, you would not dismantle our democracy and you would go to work for the citizens of Israel,” Lapid said.

Lapid is the head of the Yesh Atid Party, the second-largest faction in the Knesset after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. He preceded Netanyahu during a brief stint as prime minister before Netanyahu’s coalition picked up a Knesset majority in November’s parliamentary elections.

Lapid has called the proposed judicial reforms an “extreme regime change,” and has vowed to continue fighting in streets across the country in “a war over our home.”

In response, Netanyahu has accused his political opponent of “planting the seeds of disaster” by encouraging a public rebellion against a democratically-elected government.

According to reports, Regev decided that the live broadcast of the torch-lighting ceremony next Tuesday evening would give way to a recording of a rehearsal of the event if anti-government protesters cause disruptions.

Weekly mass demonstrations have taken place since the start of the year when Netanyahu’s coalition began its push for judicial reform.

The annual torch-lighting ceremony takes place on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

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