Jaír Lapid entered office last Friday as caretaker prime minister, serving as the country’s minister for foreign affairs in the previous cabinet. He is the second prime minister of the coalition defeating Benjamin Netanjahu. Interestingly, the previous administration had two ministers of Hungarian origins. However, Israel never had a prime minister of Hungarian origin before.
According to portfolio.hu, Benjamin Netanjahu suffered defeat last summer in the elections. As a result, his opposition, led by Naftali Bennett, formed a government. Bennett and Lapid would have changed places in 2023, according to the rotation-based coalition agreement. However, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, voted to dissolve itself on Thursday, triggering new elections. Mr Lapid will lead the government as a caretaker prime minister until the next general elections.
The Hungarian media outlet says the early parliamentary elections would be on 1 November. However, it would not be exceptional if nobody gained enough votes to form a strong government. In that case, Mr Lapid’s administration might serve longer.
The centrist former TV anchorman has been the first non-rightist prime minister of Israel since Ehud Barak left office in 2001. He does not have military experience but he has been an active politician for a decade. Lapid worked as a journalist from an early age. In 2011, he founded the liberal Jes Atid (‘There Is a Future’) political party. The formation was part of Netanjahu’s cabinet between 2013 and 2014. Lapid served then as the finance minister of Israel. His party is today the second biggest in the Knesset, following Netanjahu’s Likud – mandiner.hu reported.
Jaír Lapid’s father, Joszef (Tomi) Lapid, was born as Tamás Lampel in Újvidék, in a Hungarian-speaking Jewish family.
Újvidék was part of Yugoslavia back then, but most of its citizens were Hungarians or Hungarian-speaking Jews. Lapid’s grandfather died in a concentration camp during WWII. His father survived thanks to his mother, a Transylvanian writer, and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest.
He moved to the newly-found Israel at 17 and worked for two local Hungarian newspapers, Új Kelet (‘New East’) and Maariv. He founded an anti-ultraorthodox party, Sinuj, which got into the Knesset in 1999.
He was justice minister and deputy prime minister in Arial Saron’s cabinet between 2003 and 2004.
Then he left the coalition, and his party became basically defunct. Jaír Lapid wrote a book about his father, which was published in Hungary in 2012.
The current government has two ministers of Hungarian origins. Defence Minister Beni Ganz’s father was from Szováta, Transylvania, while his mother, Málka Weiss, was from Mezőkovácsháza. Transport and Transport Security Minister Merav Michaeli’s grandfather was Rezső Kasztner, a Zionist journalist in Kolozsvár, who was later employed by Israeli Új Kelet (‘New East’).
According to mandiner.hu, Lapid
criticised Viktor Orbán several times in the past. However, Péter Szijjártó has recently shared a post saying that he talked with Lapid via phone and said that Hungary supported him.
Interestingly, Lapid wrote a bestseller about the persecution of his family during the Holocaust. Furthermore, he visited the Holocaust museum of Jerusalem before his inauguration as prime minister.
Source: portfolio.hu, mandiner.hu