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PA Hopes to Talk Peace with Lapid

The Palestinian Authority is hoping that Yair Lapid’s achievement in this week’s election will lead to the resumption of peace negotiations.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/25/2013, 5:12 AM

	Yasser Abed Rabbo
Yasser Abed Rabbo
AFP photo

The Palestinian Authority is hoping that Yair Lapid’s achievement in this week’s election will lead to the resumption of peace negotiations, AFP reports.

Lapid, who describes his Yesh Atid party as a centrist party, surpassed all the achievements that polls had predicted throughout the campaign and won 19 Knesset seats, making Yesh Atid the second largest party in the Knesset.

Now, the PA leadership says it wants new dialogue with Israeli political parties, particularly centrists.

“The Palestinian leadership watches the results of the Israeli elections with great interest, and we think that these elections constitute a new chance for the Israelis to express themselves," Yasser Abed Rabbo, an official with the Palestine Liberation Organization, told reporters.

"We are willing to open a dialogue with those Israeli parties who are ready," he added.

"We extend a political invitation to Israeli parties, particularly the new ones among them, to open a dialogue before the formation of a new government," Abed Rabbo added in comments made to AFP.

The invitation appeared to be directed in particular at Lapid but may have also been directed at the Hatnua party led by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

The dialogue would "discuss the bases on which it is possible to negotiate and the result that we seek from these negotiations," he added.

Lapid, who is expected to be the second partner in Israel's next government and has even been floated as a potential foreign minister, has said he favors the resumption of peace negotiations but has also indicated that he is opposed to Israel giving up parts of Jerusalem as part of a peace agreement.

Livni has indicated her willingness to give up areas in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem as part of a peace agreement. She was part of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s cabinet when he offered PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas an unprecedented offer, including 94% of Judea and Samaria and splitting Jerusalem. Abbas refused the offer.

It remains to be seen whether Livni, whose new party achieved only six seats, will enter Netanyahu’s coalition, but in any case Netanyahu has indicated he would not allow Livni to be his foreign minister or take part in future talks with the PA.

Livni's poor achievements in the election are an indicator that the Israeli public shares Netanyahu's view that there is no partner for peace with the PA. Livni's campaign centered around her belief that the peace process should be restarted.