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May 2, 2013 9:44 am

Report: Yair Lapid Secretly Met With Sheldon Adelson

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Is Israel’s new star politician cozying up to U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson? Reports have it that Yair Lapid met with the casino magnate and staunch Benjamin Netanyahu supporter two weeks ago. Mazal Mualem reports for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse that the two met for about two hours at Adelson’s Tel Aviv penthouse.

Mualem asks whether or not Netanyahu should be worried about the rendezvous. “Will this be the beginning of a lovely friendship between Adelson, the owner of the biggest-circulation newspaper in Israel [Israel Hayom], and Lapid, the politician on the fast track who intends to compete for the prime minister’s post in the next election?”

Mualem continues: “Does Adelson, who is strongly influenced by public opinion, think that he spots a ‘King Yair’? Is he trying to strengthen his relations with the finance minister, a rising star in the American media, who also received a personal and favorable nod from US President Barack Obama during the latter’s visit to Israel?”

Mualem posits that the meeting might already be paying dividends for Lapid in the public relations department. He points to a recent Lapid-friendly headline in the Adelson-owned Israel Hayom newspaper that reads: “Lapid scored a successful premier debut at the Finance Committee.”

Mualem also points to the possible about-face the meeting could represent. After all, Lapid and Adelson have a history of enmity between them that culminated in an election season verbal assault on the part of Lapid. At one point he went directly after Israel Hayom, remarking that Adelson and Netanyahu’s relationship was problematic. Lapid claimed that Israel Hayom is, in effect, an “election donation” from Adelson to Bibi (Benjamin Netanyahu). On his Facebook page, Lapid nicknamed Israel Hayom as “Netanyahu’s official journal.”

Not everyone received the report with aplomb. Former MK Anastassia Michaeli wrote on her Facebook page that Lapid should explain why “instead of working for the middle class he was holding meetings” with the billionaire Adelson.

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