Finance Minister Yair Lapid expressed cautious optimism about peace talks Saturday, after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced the opening of negotiations.
“To the left we say: We must negotiate the way that is accepted in the Middle East – toughly, suspiciously, while trying to ‘sell at a high price’ and not compromise on the essential assets of the State of Israel,” Lapid wrote on Facebook.
The Yesh Atid leader’s message to the right is “we must separate ourselves from the Palestinians, because a bi-national state means the end of Zionism. We need to approach this process with courage, based on a two-state solution, because we cannot surrender to despair, to giving up, to whoever says ‘there’s nothing we can do.’ There is what to do. There always is.” “Israel is looking for a fair divorce, not a happy marriage,” Lapid wrote, paraphrasing author Amos Oz.
Lapid added that he analyzed possible scenarios and discussed them with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and concluded that he feels “cautious hope.” Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) praised the renewed negotiations.
“These talks are the fruits of America’s effort, but they are first and foremost in our interest,” she stated. “An important opportunity is open, and we must finally progress toward attaining an agreement between us and the Palestinians.” Yacimovich said negotiations are not enough, and Israel must do all it can to reach an agreement.
“I hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu will declare clearly that he supports a two-state solution and will make the necessary decisions to ensure the continued fulfillment of the Zionist dream of a Jewish, democratic state,” she added.
Several other Labor MKs sent congratulatory messages, with faction chairman Isaac Herzog saying Kerry’s push for talks is “an impressive achievement,” and that the sides should not give up despite their skepticism, while MK Eitan Cabel warned that “the fact that we need to send congratulations for an action that is in Israel’s interest attests to Netanyahu’s diplomatic failure.” Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz praised the renewal of peace talks, saying that Hatnua is in the government for the exact purpose to move negotiations forward and support Netanyahu as they take place in order to ensure a better future.
“This is a great opportunity that cannot be missed, and I call for Labor and the peace camp to support it and strengthen it,” Peretz wrote on Facebook.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On called Kerry’s announcement an important development, but said that in order for it to be a true opportunity, “the government must understand that negotiations that are not based on ’67 lines and land swaps are not negotiations.” “If Netanyahu will understand this and truly act to end the occupation, even if it leads to the departure of coalition partners who are against peace, I promise that Meretz will be there to give him a parliamentary back,” she wrote on Facebook.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Lapid-Peace-talks-must-lead-to-fair-divorce-from-Palestinians-320474