Finance Minister Yair Lapid gestures during a speech to his Yesh Atid deputies at the Knesset..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday of tricking Israel and the United States by negotiating an agreement with Hamas.
Both Lapid and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni had said in recent days that they would only keep their parties in the coalition to advance peace talks. But both blamed the Palestinians for the cancellation of talks that were set for Wednesday, and said the entire diplomatic process would have to be reevaluated.
“We transferred some of the most vicious killers to the Palestinian Authority, only to find that they have this agreement or they were working on this agreement with Hamas without telling anybody,” Lapid told members of the European Jewish Congress executive Wednesday night.
“I think the Americans must be as disappointed as we are from the fact that this was hidden from everybody and was done underground,” he said.
Lapid stated that Hamas joining the Palestinian government would be “a game-changer.” He said Abbas had violated Israel’s trust by reaching the agreement with Hamas, and that trust was a necessity for Israel to make a deal with him.
“Hamas is a jihadi terror organization that is proud of killing civilians – women, children, the elderly – just because they’re Jewish,” he said. “If the Palestinians really want a treaty with Israel, how did they not demand from Hamas to say it is abandoning terror and committing to not hurt innocent people and to follow international law?” The finance minister posited that the Palestinians didn’t really want a state – a process that would take more than a vote in the UN.
“Creating a state – and we know this better than most nations – comes from the lack of drama [inherent] in normalcy, from building an electric company, collecting taxes, fighting corruption, building streets and schools, fighting terror,” Lapid said.
“For the last two decades, the Palestinians were given endless opportunities to do all that, and they avoided them all.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said the PA had turned into a terrorist organization following the Fatah- Hamas agreement.
“We don’t talk to murderers,” he said. “The agreement among Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad brings the Middle East to a new diplomatic era. The Palestinian Authority turned into the largest terrorist organization in the world, 20 minutes from Tel Aviv.”
According to Bennett, Israel shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists, just as the US does not talk to Hamas, Islamic Jihad or al-Qaida.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said Abbas’s common denominator with Hamas was hatred of Israel and the Jewish people.
“This is a slap in the face of the US and its secretary of state,” Katz told Army Radio.
“Abbas said no to peace and no to real negotiations.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin remarked that the agreement “once again shows the true united goal of Hamas terrorists and Fatah leaders: to destroy the Jewish state.”
He added that “there’s no reason to be surprised that someone who wouldn’t even discuss recognizing a Jewish state in any borders and pays massive salaries to Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israelis and sit in Israeli prison found his natural place in a bear hug with Hamas murderers.”
On the left, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) said the reconciliation was the result of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s lack of initiative.
“The burden of proof on [the agreement’s] meaning is on Abbas,” Herzog stated. “Its advantage is that it may include Gaza in future agreements with the Palestinians.”
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said Netanyahu had pushed Abbas toward Hamas and then asked the PA president to choose between Hamas and Israel.
“This request goes against Israeli interests. Any reconciliation between Gaza and the West Bank is necessary, as long as any agreement between Abbas and Israel includes Hamas, which would include the end of violence [from Gaza],” she explained.
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