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Yesh Atid Party: History & Overview

Yesh Atid ("there is a future" in Hebrew) is a centrist Israeli political party founded by Yair Lapid in 2012.

Lapid, well-known in Israel from his 31-year career as a journalist and for being the son of outspoken former politician Tommy Lapid, announced in January 2012 that he would be quiting journalism to form and lead a new political party. In April, Lapid formally registed the name "Yesh Atid" and announced the party's official platform.

Yesh Atid portrays itself as a centrist political party with the slogan. "We believe that Israel is a democratic, Jewish state in the spirit of the visions of the prophets of Israel."

In the 2013 parliamentary election, Yesh Atid garnered 14.19% of the vote, placing second and winning 19 seats in the Knesset.

Given that Yesh Atid is so new to the Israeli political scene, commentators are still trying to interpret the party's platform and place in the Israeli political spectrum:

"If Yair [Lapid] remains true to his ideologically simple but emotionally profound Zionism, he could help lead us to an Israel less at war with itself."
       - Yossi Klein Halevi, Shalom Hartman Institute

"The personality of the [2013 Israeli] election was Yair Lapid, a good-looking former talk show host whose centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party ran second the year after it was formed."
       - Roger Cohen, New York Times

"The conventional wisdom about the election is now that Yesh Atid has reinvigorated the Israeli center, debunking the notion that Israel's electorate necessarily leans to the right. The problem with this narrative, however, is that Tuesday's results were not really a victory for centrists and Yesh Atid is not really a centrist party ... neither the rise of Yesh Atid nor Likud's decline means that the Israeli center won."
       - Michael Koplow, Georgetown University Israel Institute

Yair Lapid emerged as a serious candidate for leading the nation during the 2013 election when he ran a platform aimed at improving the economy and quality of life for Israelis.  As Finance Minister however, he was forced to make difficult choices that were not popular with much of the electorate and failed to deliver the type of economic reforms that his supporters expected.  Some analysts belive that Netanyahu cleverly appointed Lapid to the ministry knowing that it would be impossible for him to implement the reforms his constituents demanded and thereby reducing the likelyhood that Lapid could challenge his leadership in the future.  After coming from nowhere to win 19 seats in the Knesset during the 2013 election, polls forecasted that Yesh Atid could win fewer than 10 in 2015. 

In a new campaign ad released in February 2015, Yair Lapid states "Listen to something amazing.  Of all the big parties in the Knesset – Likud, Labor, Habayit Hayehudi, Shas, Yisrael Beitenu – we are the only party, the only one, where none of its leaders or members have ever been investigated, suspected of anything, detained, used the right to remain silent, been indicted or sat in prison. The only one." 

As the final election results came in, the Yesh Atid party came in fourth place, receiving 12 seats in the 20th Knesset. Leader Yair Lapid spoke at a post-election rally and stated that “Tonight’s results are proof that Yesh Atid is here to stay.”

Yesh Atid became the first Israeli political party to form an “Anglo women's division,” on February 29, 2016, in an effort to attract new voters. The Anglo women's division will focus on women's issues, as well as female representation in government.

Sources: Hoffman, Gil. “Yesh Atid forms Anglo women's division,” Jerusalem Post (February 29, 2016);
"Netanyahu's Likud Party Sweeps to Election Victory." USA Today, (March 18, 2015);
Alona Ferber, "The scandal-to-scandal (to scandal) guide to the Israeli election, 2015," Haaretz.  (February 5, 2015);
Israel Diplomatic Network, "Parties competing in the 2013 Elections," Consulate General of Israel in Montreal, (January 3, 2013);
Michael Koplow, "No, Israel Did Not Just Vote for the Center," Foreign Affairs, (January 23, 2013);
Roger Cohen, "The Israeli Center Lives," New York Times, (January 23, 2013);
Yesh Atid English website (English; Hebrew);
Yossi Klein Halevi, "Why I Voted for Yair Lapid," Tablet Magazine, (January 23, 2013).