Netanyahu, Lapid kill coalition crisis on peace process

PM says any peace deal with Palestinians will come to referendum after Lapid, Bennett's perceived clash on peace talks.

Lapid and Bennett at Knesset swear in 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Lapid and Bennett at Knesset swear in 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
A coalition crisis that began Sunday when Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid flexed his muscles on the diplomatic issue ended less than 24 hours later on Monday when Lapid and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu downplayed the dispute.
Lapid said at a Tel Aviv conference on Monday that the diplomatic process had to advance even if it meant changing the coalition. The statement was seen as an attack on his political ally, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett.
But Lapid told his faction on Monday that he was disappointed that political reporters emphasized what he called “political gossip and coalition scenarios, some of which were odd.”
He said that Yesh Atid would do everything possible to prevent the negotiations from failing and would not let anyone collapse the diplomatic process and that Israel would maintain its security in the talks.
Netanyahu reassured MKs in the Likud Beytenu faction that any agreement reached with the Palestinians will come to a referendum.
“What will decide whether there will be an agreement is not the composition of the coalition, but whether matters of essence for the nation like security are met,” Netanyahu said.
Coalition chairman Yariv Levin said he was not impressed by Yesh Atid’s “sudden smattering of diplomatic activity.”
“They asked in the campaign where the money is, not where [US Secretary of State John] Kerry is. I don’t think they will leave. If they wanted to go, they would have. Such comments distance peace because they give the other side the false impression that they should wait for a different government.”
A Bayit Yehudi official said his party would “stay in the coalition long after those who want us to leave will be gone.”
Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel said the Likud should stop using his party to threaten its coalition partners when they misbehave.
“We are not warming up on the sidelines,” Cabel said. “We aren’t joining the coalition.”