The current talks with the Palestinians are unlikely to go anywhere because of both sides’ terms, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel predicted Wednesday.
“Everyone in the coalition agrees, including [Justice Minister Tzipi] Livni and [Finance Minister Yair] Lapid, that the major settlement blocs will remain intact, the Jordan Valley will remain part of Israel, there cannot be a right of return and Jerusalem will remain united. The other side wants the right of return, won’t recognize Israel as Jewish and doesn’t want any Jews on their land,” Ariel pointed out.
“If you ask me if we can reach an agreement with those terms, I say no,” he added.
Ariel called the continuing talks “déjà vu,” saying there’s no way for a breakthrough as US Secretary of State John Kerry has no room to maneuver.
The full interview with Ariel, including his thoughts on Kerry’s warning on boycotts, will appear in Friday’s paper.
As for the idea that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will remove Bayit Yehudi from the coalition and replace it with Labor, which is more amenable to a peace treaty, Ariel said it’s “not realistic politically.”
“There are Likud MKs who told me they will not vote in favor [of a more left-wing government]. I won’t say who, but you can guess,” Ariel stated.
While Ariel believes the current coalition is safe as far as peace talks are concerned, matters of religion and state are a different story.
The Bayit Yehudi minister accused Yesh Atid lawmakers of submitting “declarative” bills on issues like civil marriage and legal recognition for same-sex couples, which they know will never pass, as a publicity stunt.
“I told the prime minister he really has to use his full weight on this. This can break up the coalition. If everyone pushes in his own direction, we can fall apart,” he said. “I hope the prime minister will calm things down. It won’t be totally quiet, though; even families argue sometimes.”