Israel's Maariv newspaper has reported snippets of a conversation said to have taken place on Thursday between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister MK Yair Lapid. (Yesh Atid)
The newspaper reports that during the conversation the Prime Minister described Lapid's failure to demand recognition of a Jewish State as a dangerous left wing opinion that would only set chances of peace back. Netanyahu has previously said recognition is a non-negotiable tenet of negotiations with the PA.
The conversation follows comments made earlier this week by Lapid to a US TV show, in which he stated that the recognition the prime minister was demanding from the Palestinian Authority was 'unnecessary.'
Lapid said in the interview that his late father Yosef "Tommy" Lapid - an Israeli journalist turned politician - had not arrived from a ghetto in Budapest to the city of Haifa, "in order to demand recognition from the side of Mahmoud Abbas." This demand is not necessary, the Yesh Atid party head said.
The newspaper also said in conversations between the two that Netanyahu had forced Justice Minister MK Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) to tow Netanyahu's line on the issue. Lapid said that Livni - who is leading negotiations with the PA - had told him she was including recognition of a Jewish State as an Israeli demand because the prime minister had ordered her to.
Netanyahu: 'Recognition - non-negotiable'
Only a few days ago during a stirring speech at Bar Ilan University, the Prime Minster placed the demand for recognition as a central theme in his handling of negotiations. He further said that agreeing to all of the Palestinian Authority's demands would place Israel in a situation with a hostile Palestinian State on its border, and a large Arab population inside Israel - a result of PA demands that Israel allow descendants of Arabs who fled Israel to "return" - threatening to undermine its character as a Jewish state.
Netanyahu added that the PA's refusal to take the step to recognize the Jewish State was a sign that it wasn't truly serious about making peace.
"Recognize the Jewish State," he called out in his speech. "Why are you not prepared to recognize a Jewish State? We are prepared to recognize your national state," he said, adding that "it eats into our national homeland, and that is a very hard thing for us."
He continued "you also have to make a list of concessions, and the first concession is to concede the 'right of return' to the land."
Netanyahu reminded PA resident Arabs that an agreement would only be signed after PA recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, and emphasized that this was a non-negotiable condition.