Ministers on the coalition’s Left placed blame for the apparent failure of the most recent round of peace talks on various factors this weekend.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) found Bayit Yehudi at fault, while Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) charged the Palestinians with making negotiations impossible.
Livni, who is responsible for negotiations with the Palestinians, attacked the Bayit Yehudi party in an interview with Channel 2’s Meet the Press, saying that Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, the chairman of Bayit Yehudi, is “just waiting for the opportunity to prevent a treaty, but permit me not to be happy for them.”
The justice minister said that Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel of Bayit Yehudi’s announcement of construction of homes in Jerusalem over the Green Line last week was an attempt to torpedo talks.
“The result is that the whole world claims we’re at fault, even when we behaved appropriately,” she added. “That is the price of Bayit Yehudi’s presence in the government.”
Livni’s comments echoed an article about Ariel published on Buzzfeed Friday, titled “How One Man Sabotaged the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks” and quoting a US official saying that the housing minister “knew where to place the straw that broke the camel’s back” in the negotiations with the PLO.
Bennett took to Facebook to write: “Shabbat just ended and I already hear someone is blaming Bayit Yehudi for the implosion of the peace talks.
She should remember what Rabbi Akiva said in Ethics of the Fathers: Silence is a sign of intelligence.”
Ariel used the same Mishnaic quote in his response to Livni, adding that “there is egg on her face, because she had endless leeway to make peace, including releasing despicable murderers, but completely failed and is now looking for someone to blame.
“[Livni’s] wailing and crying about construction in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria are nothing but crocodile tears from someone who knew [about the building tenders] in advance, as did the Americans and Palestinians,” Ariel said.
On Friday, Lapid put to rest rumors that, because he repeatedly and publicly said there must be negotiations with the Palestinians, he would leave the government together with Livni if talks fail.
The Yesh Atid leader reaffirmed his commitment to the coalition by placing the blame for the talks’ possible failure squarely on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Renewing negotiations with the Palestinians was one of the conditions for Yesh Atid to enter the government, but in order for there to be negotiations, the other side has to want them too,” Lapid explained. “Abbas’s behavior in recent days raises serious doubts as to whether he is interested in reaching an agreement.”
According to Lapid, “when [Abbas’s recent] list of demands – which looks more like an intentional provocation meant to stop talks – was publicized, the only Israelis who were happy were the extreme Right, which prefers to wait for the Messiah instead of reaching a solution. Yesh Atid will continue to support separation from the Palestinians, but Abbas has to know that, at the moment, his demands are working against him.
“No Israeli wants negotiations at any price,” Lapid said.