Although he never claimed to be one – and during the election campaign, took great strains to emphasize that he viewed the peace process in a radically different way than Labor's Shelly Yechimovich and Hatnua's Tzippy Livni, among others – leftists were still sorely disappointed with comments Finance Minister Yair Lapid made in an interview with the New York Times, in which he said that a final-status agreement with the Palestinian Authority was unlikely in the near future, and that Israel needed to be very careful in its concessions to the PA and Arabs.
“Jerusalem is the capital of the Israeli state,” Lapid said in the interview, rejecting the idea of splitting the city to make room for a PA capital. Since getting to a final-status agreement with the PA would be almost impossible under current circumstances, Lapid advocated setting up a PA state with temporary borders in areas without Jewish residents, an idea the PA has vociferously rejected many times.
As a result, leftist politicians have slammed Lapid, with Meretz head Zehava Gal-On calling Lapid Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's “diplomatic twin.”
Speaking at a meeting of his Yesh Atid party Monday, Lapid said that he had very clear ideas about Israel's relations with the PA, and that his views should not come as a surprise to anyone. “Whoever thinks that a diplomatic solution will not entail two states for two peoples is mistaken. Any idea of a bi-national state, whether on the left or the right, would mean the end of Zionism, and I am a Zionist,” Lapid said.
With that, he added that “I do not plan on falling into the classic trap of the left, which at the beginning of negotiations reveals immediately what it plans to give away – a situation that turns what is supposed to be the end of the negotiation process into the beginning. You don't come to negotiations with just an olive branch in your hand,” Lapid added. “We are looking for a fair divorce from the Palestinians.”