Finance Minister Yair Lapid blasted right-wing politicians on Monday for calling to stop negotiations with the Palestinians whenever there is a terrorist attack.
Lapid’s criticism was seen in the Knesset as part of a recent leftward shift on his part.
Lapid also shifted leftward when he rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and when he opposed Netanyahu’s decision to have the Israeli delegation leave the UN General Assembly when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke.
“I call upon my colleagues in the cabinet not to take advantage of every terrorist attack and every incident to call for stopping the peace process,” Lapid told his Knesset faction. “This plays into the hands of the terrorists because it is exactly what they want. They are carrying out the attacks because they want the peace process to stop, so we must tell them that Israel’s policies will not be run by the attackers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”
The only minister in Netanyahu’s cabinet who has called for stopping the negotiations with the Palestinians following recent West Bank murders is Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel. Other right-wing ministers, such as Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett and Transportation Minister Israel Katz, have stopped short of issuing such a call.
In a meeting of his Bayit Yehudi faction, Bennett expressed hope for an end to the diplomatic process with the Palestinians soon and said the “creeping intifada” in Judea and Samaria must be stopped. But Bennett made no connection between the two issues.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon announced plans for a mass rally of Likud activists Thursday night at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Hamaccabiah Hotel. The rally will oppose a possible interim agreement with the Palestinians and potential American bridging proposals in the talks with the Palestinians.
The message of the rally will be that the Likud activists will not rest on their laurels, despite recent hawkish speeches by Netanyahu at Bar-Ilan University and the Knesset.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads Israel’s negotiating team, told her faction Monday that those who are concerned about Israel’s security should not fear what is taking place in the talks she leads. She vowed to lead the talks seriously and responsibly.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich told her faction Monday that the Labor Party would provide a safety net for the diplomatic talks, but only if the talks are genuine and not “pretending to negotiate.”