Lapid threatens coalition over peace process

MK Shai calls on dovish elements of government to join "center-left" bloc that would compete with right.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 18, 2014 21:43
2 minute read.
Finanace Minister Yair Lapid

Yair Lapid . (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Yesh Atid will leave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition if the diplomatic process with the Palestinians does not advance, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid warned Saturday in an interview with Channel 10.

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In an effort to push Netanyahu to make concessions to the Palestinians, Yesh Atid MKs and activists demonstrated Thursday in junctions across the country. Lapid said it was important to support Netanyahu’s efforts to bring about an agreement with the Palestinians.

“I am sitting in the government in order to advance the diplomatic process,” Lapid said. “We have no reason to sit in a government that does not conduct negotiations.”

Lapid criticized Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for his quotes slamming US Secretary of State John Kerry. He said Israel should be grateful for Kerry’s efforts.

“I think Netanyahu is acting correctly, and the process is happening, and it is real,” Lapid said. “That is why the cowards are making harsh and improper statements.”

In a speech in Tel Aviv on Friday, Lapid jokingly criticized his political ally, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, saying that he had demoted him from a “brother” to a cousin.

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Labor chairman and opposition leader Isaac Herzog responded by taking a verbal jab at Lapid for his continued alliance with Bennett.

“Lapid needs to put his money where his mouth is,” Herzog said. “While Lapid speaks of his desire for a twostate solution, he is in practice sitting in a government that is promoting the construction of settlements, leading Israel to isolation and ostracism, and harming Israel’s relations with its ally, the US. As a consequence, Israel is on a direct path to a bi-national state.”

Labor MK Nachman Shai said Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni should leave the ruling coalition in protest of its diplomatic policies.

“This government is harming Israel’s vital interests all for a cluster of apartments in the territories,” Shai said at a town hall meeting in Rehovot.

“It has chosen the path of confrontation rather than agreement.”

Shai called on Livni and Lapid to join forces with Labor in creating a Center- Left political bloc that would work to topple the government and battle the Right in the next election.

The Labor lawmaker said Ya’alon’s critical remarks aimed at Kerry “caused considerable damage to defense ties” with Washington. Shai urged Netanyahu to work quickly to put the controversy to rest.

Ariel Zilber contributed to this report.

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