Lapid slams ‘irresponsible’ Netanyahu for criticism of emerging Lebanon border deal

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Yair Lapid flies over the Karish gas field on July 19, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid flies over the Karish gas field on July 19, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Speaking to Israeli reporters in his New York City hotel this morning, Prime Minister Yair Lapid calls yesterday’s video by Benjamin Netanyahu accusing him of giving in to Hezbollah over contested gas fields “terribly irresponsible.”

“I saw what Netanyahu put out on this,” says the prime minister. “It is terribly irresponsible on a national level. The Prime Minister is in New York at the UN General Assembly. A complex negotiation is being held in America. He doesn’t know the details because he didn’t receive a security update. This damages Israel’s negotiations, and damages our security, diplomatic and economic interests.”

“This isn’t something the head of the opposition should make videos about for a campaign. I was the head of the opposition, and in similar situations, I behaved differently entirely.”

In a minute-long video tweeted by Netanyahu yesterday, the Likud leader tells the camera that “Lapid totally folded in the face of Nasrallah’s threats.” He accuses Lapid of delaying the extraction of gas from the Karish field, and of intending to transfer a field worth billions of dollars to Lebanon. Netanyahu finishes with an appeal to vote in a right-wing government in the November elections.

Lapid also gives an update on the US-brokered talks with Lebanon. “This morning, we sat with the US teams, they went to the Lebanese, it is being handled like every negotiation is handled.”

“We are in very complex, advanced negotiations,” Lapid continues. “I gave our negotiation teams very clear parameters where our security, diplomatic and economic needs are, in coordination with the defense minister. If we get this while protecting these parameters – good. If not, Israel is strong and knows how to defend itself. I continue to use the phrase ‘cautious optimism.’”

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