Lapid clarifies stance after ‘NY Times’ interview

By Ted Belman

Well it didn’t take long for Yair Lapid to walk back his remarks in the NYT interview. Evidently many MK’s in his party are much to the left of him and were very up-set with what he said, namely that settlements construction won’t be frozen ahead of peace talks and Jerusalem won’t be divided.

Yesh Atid favors an immediate return to peace talks toward a two-state solution, Finance Minister Yair Lapid clarified Monday.

Lapid said at a Yesh Atid faction meeting:

    “I need to clarify something after my interview with The New York Times. Whoever thinks we can have peace without a two-state solution is mistaken,”

This is a stupid platitude. The truth is otherwise. We won’t have peace with a two-state solution.

According to Lapid, Israel and the Palestinians must immediately return to the negotiations table “even if it’s controversial here, and even if it is hard to trust the Palestinians.”

    Several high-profile figures in Yesh Atid – including Health Minister Yael German, a former member of Meretz; Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, a supporter of the Geneva Accord; and faction chairman Ofer Shelah – have taken stances further to the Left on settlements and talks with the Palestinians.

    Shelah spoke out against Lapid’s assertions, saying, “Any intelligent person knows there won’t be an agreement with the Palestinians without [dividing] Jerusalem.”

    “The solution is complex, and in the end it has to express Zionism and the Israeli ethos in relation to Jerusalem, as well as that of the Palestinians,” Shelah explained.

    The Yesh Atid faction chairman pointed out that the last government already tried a settlement construction freeze, which was “unsuccessful and didn’t help anyone.”

    At the same time, he said the welfare state that developed in the territories should not be perpetuated and building in areas that “will not be in Israel in the future” should not continue, with the exception of immediate needs such as nurseries for towns with many children.

    As for turmoil within his party, Shelah said, “There won’t be a problem with votes. I joined Yesh Atid because it has a variety of opinions, and I think others did, too.”

    Earlier on Monday, MKs gathered for the launch of the 19th Knesset Caucus to Solve the Israeli-Arab Conflict, led by MK Hilik Bar (Labor).

    Bar criticized Lapid for implying that Abbas is not a partner for peace, saying Lapid “disappointed us on the economic issue – don’t disappoint us on diplomatic issues.”

    The caucus also discussed at length the Arab League leadership’s agreement to land swaps in a future peace treaty.

    “Ignoring the Arab League peace initiative is not an option. The government gave no answer. All of the Arab and Muslim countries support the initiative, and we have been silent for the past decade,” he said.

    Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen also spoke out in favor of the Arab League’s readiness to accept land swaps.

    “The split in the Palestinian camp, between Hamas and Fatah, makes it difficult for them to form a state and raises concern that they’ll be a base for Iran. Still, it’s worth looking into the advantages of [the Arab League proposal]. We’d have peace with 1.5 billion Muslims.

    We could bring the economy into this discourse with oil-rich nations,” he said.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who was invited to the caucus to present a different opinion, accused its members of not listening to the Arab League.

    “There is no new initiative here. Egypt says so, and there wouldn’t be an Arab League initiative without an important country like Egypt,” he said.

    “People need to face reality and stop being deluded that things here will be perfect and peaceful. What can we do, our forefathers lived in this land, in the Middle East. We’re not dealing with Switzerland or Finland,” he quipped.

    Elkin also pointed out that there was no peace with the Arabs before 1967, when Israel was not in Judea and Samaria.

    “The other side does not accept the existence of a Jewish state here,” he concluded.

    “That is a fact.”

    The Likud Beytenu deputy minister was booed as he left the stage, but Bar scolded the crowd.

    “You want peace, you just want it in a different way than us,” Bar said to Elkin.

May 21, 2013 | 1 Comment »

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  1. Return ASAP to nowhere until the Arabs believe they may take the country over.
    Deception is the favorite weapon of the Arabs besides straight lies.
    IL should be allowed to use deception like the Arabs.
    All the Arab gvts support ……. but also the elimination of IL!
    The left will have no choice but compromise the security of IL in order to be accepted by the Arabs.