Yesh Atid MK: Peace Talks with Hamas or No Coalition
Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) announced on Saturday that his party would be leaving the coalition government if it does not negotiate with the Hamas-Fatah unity government, regardless of the fact that Hamas is a terrorist group.
"I believe that the peace talks will be renewed. It's clear to me that will happen, and if not, we won't be in the government," said Cohen on the Channel 10 program "Hamateh" (the headquarters), as reported by Walla!.
"It's clear to everyone, also Jewish Home, that it's impossible to reach the status of a bi-national state. There's no choice other than two states," added Cohen.
Cohen's comments follow the collapse of peace talks in April, and the swearing in of a Fatah-Hamas unity government last Monday. While the US said it would "work with" the new government, claiming it did not include Hamas, three Hamas-backed ministers from Gaza were sworn in via video feed, and Hamas has declared it will rule the unity government.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has stated repeatedly that he will not negotiate with the unity government given its inclusion of Hamas. Indeed, Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of Israel and a genocide against the Jewish people, and has made clear the new unity agreement will not change its path of armed conflict.
For his part, Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid said last Monday "in the coming weeks we will need to learn about this government and decide where we're going." He added "it's not the time for criticism but rather careful consideration," warning not to give Hamas "the opportunity to spark the fire back against us."
Lapid just two weeks ago threatened to bring down the coalition if the government were to annex "settlement blocs" in Judea and Samaria, saying "there is no other solution than two states for two peoples."
While Yesh Atid appears to be pushing for renewed peace talks, Netanyahu in a Committee meeting last Monday reportedly made controversial statements that suggested to MKs he was considering a new "Disengagement" plan along the lines of the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.
"I don't want one state from the (Mediterranean) Sea to the Jordan (River)...we must separate from the Palestinians," said Netanyahu. He previously ruled out negotiations with the new unity government; given the suggestion of not maintaining full control over Judea and Samaria and the proposal of "separating," some MKs drew the conclusion that he was insinuating unilateral steps.