The broad contours of Israel’s January 22 election were in line with months of polling predictions, even as the specifics of the race were shaken by the surprising late surge of the centrist party Yesh Atid. As polls projected, the voting was divided roughly evenly between a center-right bloc anchored by a dominant Likud-Beitenu slate and a fractured center-left. Incumbent Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will almost certainly be asked to form Israel’s next coalition government, and the third place Labor party is likely to lead the opposition.
The surprise of the evening was the success of the new, centrist Yesh Atid party, which found itself with enough votes to become Israel’s second-largest party. Only recently created by former journalist Yair Lapid, Yesh Atid’s success has triggered a wave of interest in the group and its positions.
Founded and led by Israeli TV personality Yair Lapid, Yesh Atid embodies a kind of post-ideological pragmatism. It couples an emphasis on tough national security with an explicit endorsement of a two-state solution. It promotes free market policies while insisting on the need to bolster the middle class. And though it is avowedly secular, the Yesh Atid agenda is expressed in terms of the need to integrate Israel’s ultra-orthodox and Arab minorities into the state's civil and military institutions.
The Israel Project has compiled a series of multimedia resources documenting Yesh Atid’s platform and the party’s rise. Two videos from a recent TIP election debate, held days before voting commenced, show top Yesh Atid foreign policy official Yaakov Peri outlining the party’s foreign policy agenda in general and specifically regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Below the videos is a gallery showing the scene at the Yesh Atid party on the night of the elections, as news of the party’s electoral successes began to trickle in.