Yaïr Lapid’s campaign passes through Paris

Emmanuel Macron will welcome the new Israeli Prime Minister, Yaïr Lapid, this Tuesday, July 5 in Paris. This passage, of only a few hours, promises to be a dress rehearsal for his real baptism of fire: the visit to Israel in eight days by American President Joe Biden.

Yair Lapid took the reins of power last week under the agreements that governed the motley coalition that has ruled the country since June 2021. It finally expired, exhausted by internal dissension encouraged by the opposition, threatening to bring the divided country back into the endless cycle of repeated elections.

Diplomacy remains in its lap

This accession to power completes the reconversion of the centrist politician from the world of show business to that of high-level politics, ten years after forming his party, Yesh Atid (« there is a future »). Born in Tel Aviv to a journalist father who later became a politician, and an author mother, he represents for his detractors a progressive, secular, liberal and elitist Israel, far from the realities of the periphery.

Journalist in the army magazine during his military service, then actor and television presenter, Yaïr Lapid lacks the security build that the Israelis normally demand of their leaders.

He will lead the government while keeping his current portfolio, that of foreign affairs, where he has shone above all by his calm and stability. The Israelis’ disagreement in principle with the Iranian nuclear negotiations has been dealt with behind closed doors, rather than at the desk of international institutions. At the same time, the war with Tehran has never been so open, with the « disappearance » of several officers of the Iranian forces in recent weeks.

The “hot” peace after the Abraham Accords

Yaïr Lapid will have capitalized on the so-called Abraham Accords, even bringing together in the Israeli Negev his counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt. Military and commercial exchanges with Abu Dhabi and Rabat have experienced phenomenal growth: Moroccans will soon even come to work in Israel, a step towards a “warm” peace that Israel has never known with an Arab country.

He will also have brought into the fold of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the portfolio of strategic affairs, in particular responsible for the fight against the boycott of Israel. He has made the broadening of the fight against anti-Semitism a hobbyhorse, which plays well with his electoral attempt to restore his nationalist image. The interim and campaigning Prime Minister did not hesitate to recall, in his inaugural speech, the biblical origin of the Jewish state, « established on the day that Joshua crossed the Jordan ».

The Palestinian question in the background

There remains a big question, which no one wants to answer: that of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It will probably be little discussed during the meeting at the Élysée, even if the files are not lacking. That of Salah Hamouri, this Franco-Palestinian jurist in the process of being expelled and detained without trial, or the investigation into the death of the American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, whose funeral had been marred by police violence in a hospital under French protection in Jerusalem.

For Yair Lapid, as for most Israeli politicians, the conflict with the Palestinians is not in the foreground – he is betting on a possible resolution through an economic peace, however elusive. Important symbol: while awaiting the renovations of the official residence, the interim prime minister has agreed to move into Villa Salameh, a house that belonged to a family of Palestinian Christians and was taken over by the Jewish state in 1948. Ni David Neither Ben-Gurion nor Levi Eshkol, who had been given the same choice, had dared.


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