In an interview last week, Lapid told The Associated Press he would not be a fig leaf in an extremist government and would make firm demands for joining, including returning to peace talks.
‘‘I think it is crucial that we take the path of being part of the Western, civilized world and the international community,’’ he said at the time.
Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO official, noted that Lapid has largely focused on a domestic agenda and that he wants Israel to retain control over east Jerusalem. ‘‘You are not going to have a savior, suddenly producing instant peace,’’ she said.
Lapid’s domestic agenda includes ending special privileges — notably draft exemptions — for the ultra-Orthodox. This could mean keeping ultra-Orthodox parties out of the coalition, but bringing in the pro-settler Jewish Home, which surged in Tuesday’s vote and draws much of its strength from the modern Orthodox community.
Jewish Home, led by former army commando and high-tech millionaire Naftali Bennett, like Lapid seeks a more equitable military draft. Yet Jewish Home’s call to annex 60 percent of the West Bank and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state appears to clash with Lapid’s position.
In a sign of Lapid’s new rock star status, TV stations opted for split screens when both he and Netanyahu began addressing their supporters at the same time in different locations early Wednesday. The stations switched back and forth, torn over whose words were more important.