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Lapid urges PM to secure his ‘place in history’ by making peace, hails Fayyad’s vision of Palestinian state

In quotations left out of New York Times interview but subsequently posted on Facebook, finance minister also backs Women of the Wall, praises ‘capable’ Netanyahu

Finance Minister Yair Lapid speaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, May 1, 2013. (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid speaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, May 1, 2013. (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

In remarks left out of a New York Times interview, Finance Minister Yair Lapid praised outgoing Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s concept of Palestinian statehood, said Israel and the Palestinians need American help toward a peace agreement, and advised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make peace a priority to secure his “place in history.”

He also described Netanyahu as “a very capable man,” said the current coalition “is here to stay,” and vowed to do “everything in my power” to enable women to pray at the Western Wall in their prayer shawls.

The additional quotations from Lapid were posted on Facebook by New York Times correspondent Jodi Rudoren on Monday, hours after her interview with him was published in the newspaper. She said the quotes “didn’t make the [original] article.”

In her Facebook post, Rudoren quoted Lapid endorsing the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “the only real idea on the table,” and adding without elaboration, “Salam Fayyad’s concept of what the Palestinian state should look like in the future was a very good one.”

He spoke of “three problems that kept on paralyzing the whole process: settlements, Jerusalem and the right of return. We can do what was done unsuccessfully or we can try something else. Let’s try something else… I don’t know if I can convince them, I can only try. We are in the rejection business from both sides for many years now…. We should try and if we fail we should try again. I’m not going to give up on this because it’s so crucial.”

But the real problem preventing progress, Lapid went on, was not specific issues such as borders, Jerusalem and the right of return, but rather “hatred, fear, anxiety, suspicion… What we need now is first and foremost to break this circle of suspicion and hatred.”

Assistance from the Americans “is the kind of help we need,” he said. “I think time is working against everybody on this. We are raising another generation of young Palestinians who are being raised on hatred, and another generation of young Israelis who are raised on, at least, mistrust. If I was Netanyahu, I would say: Listen, this is my third term as prime minister, it’s my time to start thinking and talking about my place in history.”

On settlements, Lapid said flatly, “Yes, eventually we will evacuate the remote settlements… I think it’s heartbreaking. I look at these places and I can hear the prophets, and on that I’m an old-fashioned kind of Biblical Zionist. My father used to say that the problem with the Israeli left is that they don’t have enough heart about those things, and I tend to agree. When you’re taking from someone their life dream, you have to be cautious about it and identify and sympathize.”

The Yesh Atid leader praised his cabinet colleagues as a “willing government” composed of people who “want to work together.” As for Netanyahu, “He’s a very capable man, he’s very experienced. Politics is also a mechanism. I think he understands this mechanism better than anyone else in the political arena.”

In comments relating to internal issues, Lapid vowed “to do everything in my power to make sure women can pray at the Wailing Wall with their prayers shawls. I don’t understand the whole concept of someone telling someone else how to pray.”

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