Yesh Atid 'Will Leave Government if Peace Talks Don't Progress'
Finance Minister Yair Lapid said his Yesh Atid party would leave the coalition government if negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) did not progress.
"I remain part of the government so that we can advance the peace process," Lapid stated, in a Saturday night interview with Channel 10. "I have no reason to remain part of a government that will not advance negotiations."
Despite the threat Lapid said that he felt Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was conducting the talks "well", and deserved support.
Calling the peace talks "vital for our [Israel's] existence," Lapid stated that he "will take every step necessary to advance" the peace process.
Lapid also related to the hubbub last week over remarks made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who called US Secretary of State John Kerry "obsessive" and "messianic" in his quest to bring peace to the Middle East.
The Finance Minister believed that those remarks should have been left unsaid.
"I am one of those people who express gratitude toward Kerry, because I believe that the peace process is important," he declared, adding that the peace process is "real" and "justified." Lapid maintained that Ya'alon's remarks were "harsh and improper" - and, unlike some other MKs, voiced support for Ya'alon's apology.
Lapid also refused to comment on news revealed last week that Netanyahu maintained an offshore bank account from 1999-2003. He stated that he would only comment after an official investigation was held on the subject.
This is not the first time Yesh Atid has threatened to leave the coalition. In May, dispute over sanctions for hareidi-religious men who refuse to enlist to the IDF ended with discord, after the party stated that the implementation of financial sanctions - instead of criminal ones - was an issue large enough to "endanger the continued existence of the coalition."
Lapid's remarks defending Kerry also come just days after implying that Kerry has been misdirected in his views on how to conduct the peace talks.
"Many people do not like the plan, from both the Israeli side and the Palestinian [Authority] side [of negotiations]," Lapid noted Wednesday. "Because of this, the negotiations will probably be tough and deal with a lot of painful issues."
"Those who are waiting for a defining moment, where the sky will light up in fireworks and people will break into dance at the announcement of peace, simply do not understand how negotiations work in the Middle East," he concluded then.