Finance Minister Yair Lapid spoke out on the peace process on Sunday and Monday, proposing an interim agreement on the way to a two-state solution and acknowledging that he believes painful concessions will be necessary.
“It’s heartbreaking. We will have to remove tens of thousands, not just from their homes, but from their dreams,” he said at a business conference in Tel Aviv.
But, he added, “The [Jewish] blocs in Yehudah and Shomron will remain in Israel.” Lapid also believes that Israel should keep control of east Yerushalayim.
The finance minister’s comment could complicate U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s next round of negotiations in a few days. The Americans have never been keen on the idea of an interim settlement, and the Palestinians have so far rejected it. But American officials have confirmed that such an approach was one of those being explored, The Associated Press said.
Lapid tried to allay skepticism about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s readiness for peacemaking, explaining that, concerned about his political legacy, the prime minister is serious about it. He added that Netanyahu has said that Israel is prepared for a “meaningful compromise” with the Palestinians.
He also believes there is enough support in the government, despite the presence of the right-wing Jewish Home party.
Lapid’s characterization of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “still not psychologically ready for an agreement with Israel, either partial or full,” was not encouraging, though.
Netanyahu’s office declined comment, but opposition politicians did not.
Labor MK Merav Michaeli slammed Lapid for an alleged turnabout. “And this time, [he’s not just working] against the working women and men, but also against peace, in complete contradiction to the promises he made before the elections,” Michaeli said.
“Either he had no clue about anything before the elections, or he thinks Israelis don’t read English, or he simply lied. I’m not sure which option is worse,” she added.
Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev accused Lapid of being a “conservative-rightist” and of abandoning Tzipi Livni to fight alone in the “battlefield” of the peace process.
Kerry is to meet separately with Netanyahu and Abbas on Thursday and Friday.