Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Top diplomat to become Israeli prime minister

As a TV star, Yair Lapid’s weekly commentary was entitled “Being Israeli” – a rhapsody about the middle-class, politically centrist ranks that he saw holding together a fractious country, with him as their tribune. Now foreign minister, the centre-left Lapid has also held the finance portfolio and sat in the security cabinet – Israel’s decision-making forum on war or peace. Next week, he will take over from Naftali Bennett as prime minister when lawmakers vote to dissolve parliament and pave the way for the country’s fifth election in three years. As interim prime minister, the still-chiseled but now gray-haired Lapid, who will welcome U.S. President Joe Biden on his visit to Israel next month, may have to reach out more widely to maintain a stable government. (https://news.yahoo.com/heart-throb-hot-seat-lapid-185548649.html) A decade in public service at the head of the Yesh Atid (“There is a Future”) party which he founded and in which he has never faced a serious challenger, the 58-year-old has built a solid resume of cabinet roles and statecraft. Despite not graduating from high school, Lapid became a successful writer and made no secret of self-teaching with each new government role. During an earlier stint in Hollywood working for Israeli-U.S. mogul Arnon Milchan, Lapid gained a regard for American power-projection and expectations of a Middle East ally. In contrast to Bennett’s impatience with talk of renewing talks on Palestinian statehood, Lapid has described such diplomacy as necessary for Israel’s well-being – but argued that both sides are too domestically hamstrung to pursue them. On Israel’s arch-foe Iran, the two have been in lockstep and Lapid is not expected to change course.

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