Science, Technology, and Space Minister Yaakov Perry (Yesh Atid) criticized Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on Friday, after Yaalon dismissed the Arab peace initiative as “a spin.”
“It is vital and important that Israel do everything to return to the negotiating table,” Perry said, adding, “The Arab peace initiative is one of the main ways to do this, and it is our duty to consider it seriously."
Statements such as Yaalon’s, claimed Perry, “only distance us from the negotiating table.”
The Arab Peace Initiative, unveiled in 2002 by Saudi Arabia, says that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible and narrow 1949 armistice line and Israeli acceptance of the "Right of Return" for millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, effectively bringing an end to the Jewish state.
It was recently revived when Qatar’s Prime Minister indicated that he supported a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that would be defined by the June 4, 1967 borders, but at the same time backed U.S. President Barack Obama's proposals for a "comparable and mutual agreed minor swap of the land" between Israel and the PA, to reflect the realities of the burgeoning communities on the ground.
Yaalon, however, said in Washington on Friday that the initiative is a spin because it is a precondition which dictates to Israel what the final outcome of the negotiations will be.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that Israel is ready to return to the negotiating table without preconditions and dictations, but the Arab initiative is a dictation - first we need to give up territory, then the Arabs would consider a relationship with us," said Yaalon.
"We are ready to come immediately and talk about everything, without preconditions, but not just about territory,” Yaalon added. “The Palestinians have preconditions, and therefore the possibility to begin talks is delayed.”
Yesh Atid is a party that claims to be centrist, but is put together from MK's of widely disparate political ideologies.
On Wednesday, MK Ofer Shelah from Yesh Atid slammed the Israeli settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria, claiming that the communities in this region are an obstacle to peace and attacking the “Israeli occupation” of lands liberated during the 1967 Six Day War.
"Settlements are an obstacle to a peace agreement and this obstacle is growing,” charged Shelah. “Israel progresses daily towards becoming like South Africa. It is on the verge of a boycott of products – first of those manufactured in the settlements and then those produced elsewhere in Israel.”
Several weeks ago, Welfare Minister Meir Cohen, also of Yesh Atid, said that “isolated settlements should be dismantled right now, without waiting for peace negotiations."
Cohen said, "These settlements cost us a lot of money and we can definitely partially dismantle them right now. Everything must be done to ensure that we are not thought of as doing everything possible to avoid negotiations. We must come to the negotiating table and to strive for peace.”
Attacking the residents of Judea and Samaria, Cohen charged, "Israel has lost control over the settlers, especially the hilltop youth. We’ve lost control of the settlers in some cases. We need take care of the youths, bring them back to normativeness."
The party’s chairman Finance Minister Yair Lapid recently gave an interview to the New York Times in which he said that that Israel should not change its policy on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in order to revive the stalemated peace process, and that Jerusalem should not serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Lapid said he would not stop the so-called “natural expansion” of the Jewish communities, nor curtail the financial incentives offered to Israelis to move there. He said that eastern Jerusalem, liberated by Israel in the Six Day War, must stay Israeli, because “we didn’t come here for nothing.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)