Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid decided Tuesday to bar the 19 Knesset members in his
faction from attending a pre-Rosh Hashana toast hosted by Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas next week in Ramallah.
Lapid told the MKs that
they should not go to the event because it would weaken Israel’s side in ongoing
negotiations with the Palestinians. He said attending the event would be
counter-productive and could undercut Israel’s position.
“When there are
direct negotiations between the two sides, we don’t think it is right for
coalition MKs to bypass the official talks,” a party spokeswoman said. “We
should let the diplomatic process continue via acceptable
Sources in Yesh Atid speculated that Justice Minister Tzipi
Livni, who leads Israel’s negotiating team, might have asked MKs not to attend.
A meeting of Meretz MKs with Abbas last week undermined the talks because Abbas
leaked that no progress had been made in the negotiations.
close to Livni denied that she was involved in Lapid’s decision. MKs from
Livni’s party are expected to attend the event.
The event is being
organized by Labor MK Hilik Bar, who heads the Knesset Caucus on Ending the
Israeli-Arab Conflict. More than 30 MKs who are part of the caucus were expected
to travel to Ramallah before Yesh Atid announced the boycott.
expressed frustration with Lapid’s decision and accused him of avoiding taking a
clear position on the diplomatic process. The Labor MK said the event would have
strengthened the process, not weakened it.
“I expect coalition MKs who
support the negotiations to be more active and less scared of their coalition
partners from the extreme right,” Bar said. “The meeting will support the
coalition and the government and gives them a boost. I would expect Lapid to
take steps to strengthen the negotiations and the two-state solution and not
avoid cooperating with steps to strengthen trust and dialogue between the two
The September 3 visit to Ramallah will follow up on the visit of
a Palestinian delegation to a meeting of the caucus at the Knesset on July 31.