US Secretary of State John Kerry praised on Thursday Finance Minister Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party’s “brave” efforts to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, adding that the party would play an important role in pushing a deal through.
“I heard that Finance Minister Yair Lapid said some brave things about the peace process,” Kerry said during a meeting in Washington with MKs from both the coalition and the opposition.
“That voice needs to be heard in Israel,” he added.
Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, who attended the meeting, responded to Kerry’s comments by pledging to back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his efforts to strike a deal with the Palestinians.
“Yesh Atid is the most important political support base for the prime minister in order to progress the political peace process,” Shelah said.
“The prime minister knows that if he advances the peace process, we will stand beside him, and ensure a majority in the Knesset and the public.”
The closed-door negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over the future contours of a Palestinian state, and how much land and settlements Israel will retain, have reportedly come down to a matter of a few percentage points.
According to Walla, both sides agree in principle that the majority of Jewish West Bank settlements would be transferred to Israeli sovereignty in a final status deal.
Citing anonymous Israeli, Palestinian and American sources close to the negotiations, Walla reported that Israel is seeking to annex about 10 percent of the West Bank’s land area in a final deal. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are seeking to have Israel annex only around 3% of the West Bank, the report said.
Kerry is expected to present in the near future the so-called “framework agreement,” a nonbinding document intended to outline a final-status agreement, the principles of which have been agreed upon by the two sides.