Filling the void: Israel’s self-styled shadow foreign minister

Israel doesn’t have a “shadow government” like other countries do, but it’s clear that Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid still sees himself as Israel’s shadow foreign minister.

Like any opposition member worth his name, the former finance minister has vocally criticized much of the government’s foreign policies since it was sworn in last year, but he hasn’t limited himself to talk. Lapid traveled to Brussels, Geneva, Washington and more to advocate for Israel before foreign leaders and diplomats.

The way Lapid tells it, after finding Yesh Atid in the opposition after the 2015 election, he looked for a way to make himself useful.

Lapid spoke to The Jerusalem Post at a cafe in his Ramat Aviv neighborhood, wearing the black T-shirt and jeans that was his signature look for many years as a television presenter, before he became a politician. He spoke near-fluent English – occasionally deliberating over the best word – in an almost-British accent he picked up as a child, when living in London while his father, former justice minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid was Ma’ariv’s correspondent in London.

“I tried to figure out how I can still do good for the country in the best manner possible,” he said of his focus on foreign policy after leaving the Finance Ministry for the opposition. “I was elected to serve the people of Israel in the best manner I can, and this was it.”

Plus, there was the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to keep the Foreign Ministry for himself. Continue reading

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