Laying out party’s foreign policy, Yair Lapid calls for talks with Palestinians

Yesh Atid head urges ‘livable divorce’ and not ‘happy marriage’ with Palestinians

Ilan Ben Zion is an AFP reporter and a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Yesh Atid party founder Yair Lapid  (photo credit: Meir Partush/Flash 90)
Yesh Atid party founder Yair Lapid (photo credit: Meir Partush/Flash 90)

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid pushed for Israel to restart talks with the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday, but said he would seek a “divorce” with Israel’s neighbors rather than “a happy marriage.”

His speech at Ariel University Center in the West Bank town of Ariel marked the first time the budding politician has presented his new party’s foreign-policy platform.

The TV anchor-turned-politician told an audience that his centrist party would not recognize Palestinian refugees’ right of return and would work to maintain a united Jerusalem under Israeli authority.

Yesh Atid doesn’t seek “a happy marriage with the Palestinians,” but rather “a divorce we can live with,” Lapid said. “Not a way we can unify with them, but rather a way to separate from them.

“We must not lose the Jewish majority in the State of Israel,” he added. “The far left and the far right are advancing unchecked — everyone for their own reason — the dangerous and distorted idea of a binational state. With no [peace] agreement, the Jewish and Zionist identity of the State of Israel is endangered.”

He emphasized that his party will not join a government until peace negotiations with the Palestinians are re-initiated.

“We will not participate in a government that again dissolves our present and future commitments with excuses,” he said. “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s charge that ‘there is no partner’ [for negotiations with the Palestinians] is an attempt to escape reality. Which partner is he waiting for? Are there partners hiding in the Palestinian Authority who love Israel, are donating to the Jewish National Fund, and are closet fans of [David] Ben-Gurion?”

Lapid continued that Hamas’s growing legitimacy had created the illusion of having no Palestinian partner.

“The sole thing that created the ‘no partner’ policy is the weakening of the Israeli stance and the strengthening of Hamas in the international arena, evidenced recently by the visit of the emir of Qatar to the Gaza Strip,” Lapid declared.

Notably, Lapid said he chose to deliver his policy speech in Ariel because he opposed attempts to boycott the university in the West Bank settlement, adding that he favors retaining the large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria.

Lapid also said he would change course vis-a-vis Iran, pulling Israel back from the military option to stop its nuclear program.

“Israel has taken a wrong turn,” he said. “Bombing an Iranian nuclear facility is an option that shouldn’t be taken off the table, but it is the final option.”

Lapid advocated Israel acting as the lynchpin of an “international coalition led by the United States, which would strangle the Iranian regime until its collapse.”

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