Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu) criticized Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday for suggesting that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was wrong to insist on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Netanyahu reiterated his demand at his speech at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan on Sunday night. Lapid reacted in an interview with the Charlie Rose show in New York.

“I don’t feel we need a declaration from the Palestinians that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” Lapid said. “My father [former Justice Minister Yosef Lapid] didn’t come to Haifa from the Budapest ghetto to get recognition from [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas. The whole concept of the State of Israel is that we recognize ourselves. After 2,000 years of being dependent on other people, we are independent and make our own rules now.”

Elkin said it was unfortunate that Lapid did not understand what the root of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict was: not the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that began in 1967, but the refusal of the Palestinians to accept Israel’s right to exist.

“Until the Palestinians recognize the right of a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East, any peace agreement will become just another step in [former PLO chairman Yasser] Arafat’s infamous staged plan to throw us in the sea,” Elkin said. “But then again, now that we’ve found gas in the sea, they will probably want to throw us further.”

Labor MK Nachman Shai said that while he agreed with Lapid that demanding Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was unnecessary, he believes Lapid should stop making controversial statements abroad. Lapid also ruffled feathers when he said in a speech in Manhattan that Jews were safer in New York than Israel.

“We should urgently send Lapid home before he opens his mouth again,” Shai said.

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