Israel is as to blame as the Palestinians for the recent breakdown of peace negotiations, MK Ofer Shelah from the Yesh Atid party said Saturday.
Shelah, who serves as Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s no.2, said that the main obstacle to achieving any sort of breakthrough was the lack of trust between both sides, adding at the American representatives to the talks did not know how to bridge the gaps.
“We have to say it clearly: the Palestinians are no less responsible for the failure [of the peace talks] than we are [Israel],” Shelah told an audience at a speaking event in Tel Aviv.
On a somewhat optimistic note, he added that he believed negotiations with the Palestinians would resume at some point.
The former journalist, who entered politics ahead of national elections in 2013, joining Lapid, another former journalist, at his Yesh Atid party, also said that that the government has an agenda driven by other interests that have little to do with the peace process. He emphasized the issues his party has advanced since it joined the Netanyahu-led coalition following elections, such as the sharing of the military burden.
Shelah also criticized Netanyahu in his handling of the nomination for the leadership of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, for which Shelah was a candidate. The MK said party leaders in the coalition supported his candidacy but Netanyau offered him the post of deputy defense minister, which he has refused, in an effort to oust the hawkish Danny Danon (Likud) from the position. (Ze’ev Elkin of the Likud was finally appointed to head the key Knesset committee this week.)
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down last month after nine months of US-brokered negotiations. The two sides have traded blame for the failure while the US has, unofficially, largely placed the blame on continued settlement activity and on Netanyahu.