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      Lapid: Without 'Peace' The Economy Will Suffer

      Finance Minister Yair Lapid attacks criticism of peace deals, says Naftali Bennett still 'my friend.'
      By Ari Yashar
      First Publish: 2/3/2014, 11:05 AM

      Yair Lapid
      Yair Lapid
      Flash 90

      Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned on Monday that without a peace deal, "the facts are that there will be great harm to Israel" financially. On Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Israel with international boycotts should negotiations fail.

      Lapid attacked governmental ministers for criticizing the proposed deal that would have Israel withdraw to the 1949 Armistice lines and establish an Arab capital in Jerusalem. According to the finance minister, such criticism "weakens us against the Palestinians and the Americans."

      "The moral mistake of the left was to start peace talks while announcing what they're ready to give up and what not. That's not how you manage a negotiation," claimed Lapid to IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal), adding "we won't tell our position in advance."

      Last Wednesday, Lapid brushed aside security concerns over the peace plan, quipping "we’re tired of the right’s unfounded prophecies of doom." He also warned then of "economic harm" should peace talks fail, a warning he repeated this Monday.

      Lapid also downplayed the recent crisis in the coalition government in his comments Monday, calling the coalition "possible and functioning very well on financial and social issues. I hope the government won't break apart because of disputes on national issues."

      Meanwhile just last month Lapid threatened to leave the government if peace talks don't progress, declaring "I have no reason to remain part of a government that will not advance negotiations."

      Lapid also commented on his alliance with Economic Minister Naftali Bennett, saying relations between the two are "very good. He's my friend."

      In contrast to Lapid's shrill warnings of financial catastrophe should a peace deal not materialize, Bennett has said the exact opposite, namely that the creation of a "Palestinian state" in Israel's central Judea and Samaria region would crush Israel's economy.

      Responding to Kerry's boycott threats, Bennett said "Only security will bring financial stability, not a terror state next to the Ben Gurion Airport."

      In reference to Bennett's comments two weeks ago that Lapid's Yesh Atid party is a "dictatorship" and "undemocratic" because it doesn't hold primaries, Lapid responded that he was proud the his party did not have primaries.

      "When I see what the primaries did to Israeli politics, I'm happy that we didn't do primaries," he said.

      Tensions between Lapid and nationalist members of the governing coalition were further strained recently when the Finance Minister ordered a halt to money transfers to Judea and Samaria following a report on Channel 2 claiming compensation money sent to the area has been "illegally" transferred to the region’s Yesha Council, which represents local communities.

      The Yesha Council's head Avi Roeh brushed aside the reports, saying the figures cited in by Channel 2 were false and that he was confidant the funds would be released following an investigation.