Delight, pride and a certain level of surprise was the mood at Yesh Atid headquarters late on Tuesday night, as members of the new centre-left party discovered they had captured an astonishing 19 seats.
To rapturous applause, the former journalist and now head of the second largest party in Israeli politics, Yair Lapid, spoke of his politician father and his father’s devotion to his constituents.
“Tonight, I understand him, and that sense of responsibility,” he said.
He spoke of how the party must remain grounded: “During the entire campaign season, the one sentence I heard repeated all across Israel, from Metula to Eilat, was, ‘Don’t forget us when you’re elected. Don’t be like all those [politicians] who once they were chosen, forget about us,’” he said.
“Now, we’ve been chosen, and we didn’t forget. I won’t forget. I will not forget.”
He remarked on the diversity of the party’s candidates, which includes lawyer Penina Tamnu-Shata, who at number 14 in the party list is set to be the first Ethiopian member of Knesset.
“Today the people chose to say no to the politics of hatred and fear. They said no to extremism,” he said. “Look at the Yesh Atid list, we have people who are Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Orthodox, secular, those from the centre and from the periphery, men, and many, many women.”
His speech also focused on dialogue and collaboration, suggesting a willingness to join a coalition with Likud. He said: “We are not here at the expense of one another, but that we are here with one another.”
US born Rabbi Dov Lipman, number 17 on the party’s list, said: “It’s time for new people, for fresh faces, and we’re very excited about it.”