Every Israeli will suffer financially if a peace deal is not reached with the Palestinians, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Monday in an interview with Army Radio, echoing warnings delivered over the weekend by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference Saturday, Kerry said that if peace talks with the Palestinians fail, there will be a “high risk” of increased boycotts, as well as a higher likelihood of international isolation, in store for Israel.
While his fellow ministers on the right launched verbal attacks against Kerry, centrist Yesh Atid party leader Lapid defended the secretary, saying the diplomat shouldn’t be raked over the coals for “making Israel look in the mirror” and recognize the threats it faces as the April deadline for peace talks inches closer – not just boycotts, but an economic crisis that would impact each and every Israeli.
Lapid said that Israelis had to “face the facts” and be aware that in the absence of an agreement, Israel would suffer a “huge economic blow” that would get persistently worse.
He said that while Israel would combat the economic threats against it, Washington shouldn’t be attacked for drawing attention to them.
“John Kerry is allowed to speak his mind,” Lapid said. “He deserves appreciation for investing countless hours and trips and a significant portion of his time to an attempt to facilitate an agreement between us and the Palestinians in spite of the difficulties.”
Israeli politicians, he said, would do well to “speak about [Kerry] more politely,” as he was genuinely interested in achieving an agreement and was doing a very “committed” job not only in his efforts to secure a deal, but also in countering the threat of boycotts against Israel.
“Not only does the United States oppose boycotts against Israel, it acts against them,” said Lapid.
Tzipi Livni, the center-left Hatnua party leader and chief Israeli negotiator, has also defended Kerry, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will not compromise its vital interests in the face of boycott threats and urged the international community to press Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for compromise.
Lapid said that while Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett was “totally right” in asserting that Israel wouldn’t change its policies as a result of surrendering to threats, it was important to acknowledge the threats currently facing Israel – such as the boycotts, an “ongoing process.”
He added that lashing out would only “make it easier to blame” Israel in the event that talks fail. “Ignoring reality is never a good thing,” Lapid said.