Yesh Atid Minister Blames Jewish Home For Talks Failure
Science Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) attacked Jewish Home ministers Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel on Saturday, blaming them for the failure of peace talks with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The pact between Jewish Home and Yesh Atid, by which neither agreed to enter Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition government last year without the other, is over according to Peri, who spoke on Mako's TV show "Meet the Press."
"In recent months there's a gaping chasm in national topics and topics of religion and state" between the two parties, remarked Peri - not for the first time.
That seemingly was less the case as recently as last December, when Bennett voted for a Yesh Atid law to give same sex couples equal tax breaks while the rest of his party abstained, after a compromise removed official recognition of such couples in the wording, saving Jewish Home from being perceived as supporting same sex couples.
The Yesh Atid minister hinting at the possibility that his party would leave following the collapse of talks, saying sharply "neither Bennett nor Ariel - with all of their hallucinatory and sabotaging statements - will decide if we sit in the government."
"The left needs to calm down"
In response to Peri's caustic comments, Jewish Home fired back only a short reply, saying "the left needs to keep self-restraint even in times of distress."
Bennett reportedly gave members of his Jewish Home party orders to soften their tone towards Justice Minister Tzipi Livni following the deal so as not to drive her from the coalition, saying "it's important not to celebrate too much, and to leave the platform for explaining the decision to (Finance Minister Yair) Lapid and Livni - they'll do that excellently."
Peri, former head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), mimicked Livni's "excellent" explanation of the suspension, saying "Israel didn't close the door."
"If Hamas renounces terror, and the Palestinian government accepts the Quartet conditions, it will be appropriate for us to reassess a different situation," claimed Peri.
Netanyahu has vowed not to negotiate with the PA as long as it is a unity partner with Hamas.
Still waiting for the "flowers of peace to blossom"
Peri clarified that as long as Hamas doesn't change, "we won't hold peace talks with a murderous terrorist organization, that shoots rockets at Israel and doesn't recognize our existence."
Abbas for his part has brought peace talks to a consistent standstill by repeatedly refusing to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, a principle that he and Hamas have apparently agreed upon as a basis for their unity government.
"We are in a serious crisis in the negotiations, but it isn't a failure," claimed Peri. "I didn't hope that within nine months the flowers of peace would blossom, but Israel showed great flexibility towards the Palestinians, who breached promises."
Abbas indeed breached talk conditions at the start of the month by applying to join 15 international conventions; as for Israeli "flexibility," Netanyahu's government released 78 terrorists gestures, including those convicted of murder, as a "gesture" for the talks.