Number 19 on the Yesh Atid list, and the last to get into the next Knesset, is Ronen Hoffman, an expert on foreign policy, negotiations, and governance based out of Herzliya's Interdisciplinary Center. Hoffman is a professional who has proven himself more comfortable with the left than the right: He previously served as an aide to two Labor prime ministers, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, and took part in peace negotiations with Syria in the 1990s.
The potentially most influential Lapid associate, however, doesn't appear on any official lists. Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, has been described as Lapid's "close friend" -- although this likely doesn't do justice to the depth of their relationship.
Lapid has said more than once that the only two people at the deathbed of his father, Tommy, were himself and Olmert, Tommy's closest friend for decades. Lapid fils idolized his late father, and says openly that he still "speaks" to him during long campaign drives. During the tense election campaign, Lapid -- running on a squeaky-clean, outsider platform -- was criticized by the media for his ties to Olmert, who was recently convicted for breach of trust and still faces further corruption charges. It would have been politically useful at the time for Lapid to distance himself from Olmert, yet he refused.
Now, with the election over, it seems hard to believe that Lapid won't turn to his experienced friend for advice. And Olmert has been one of Netanyahu's shrillest critics regarding Iran and the lack of peace negotiations. "Netanyahu is unable to make important decisions," Olmert said earlier this month. "[H]e shouldn't be prime minister."
Lapid's own public statements tend to echo the worldview of his closest confidants. While his speeches on security and foreign affairs are few, he did deliver a major policy address last October in the West Bank settlement city of Ariel. Some critics have dismissed the speech because of its locale, but Lapid went to Ariel precisely to deliver hard truths to the settler community. And while it is true that Lapid explicitly refused to divide Jerusalem in any future peace deal, he also delivered a scathing critique of Israel's foreign policy under Netanyahu.
"I came here today," Lapid began, "to call for our return to the negotiating table, in order to work for a future agreement with the Palestinians." He then promised that he would not sit in any government that did not re-launch peace talks, a promise Yesh Atid has reiterated in recent days.
Lapid used the speech to position himself as clear-eyed and unsentimental on the peace process. "You don't come to negotiations only with an olive branch, the way the left does, or only with a gun, the way the right does," he said. "You come to find a solution. We're not looking for a happy marriage with the Palestinians, but for a divorce agreement we can live with."
During negotiations, Lapid said, there would be no new settlements going up, but allowances would be made for "natural growth" in existing settlements. A final status agreement on a two-state solution, for Lapid, would see Israel retaining the three large settlement blocs, an undivided Jerusalem, and the Palestinian relinquishment of the refugee's "right of return." These are consensus positions for much of the Israeli public, but based on other remarks in the Ariel speech, they could also be viewed as Lapid's opening negotiating posture.