Lapid Slams Annexation Plan, Calls for Resumption of Talks
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, on Sunday threatened that he would topple the government if it annexes any areas of Judea and Samaria.
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Lapid said that Israel should “prepare maps” for the next round of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
An agreement with the PA, he claimed, would prevent Israel from being "internationally isolated", will increase personal safety, will help the economy "and above all - will remove from above our heads the threat of becoming a bi-national state, the only meaning of which is the end of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and the elimination of Zionism.”
Lapid continued, “In order to resume negotiations, we need to stop discussing the question of what the Palestinians want, or what kind of brokers the Americans are, and focus on another, more important question: What do we want? What does the state of Israel want?”
He further called on Israel “to apply the principle of the two states and to separate from the Palestinians. We cannot and should not control four million Palestinians, who will double in number in the next generation. Israel is a strong country with a strong economy, but if we do not separate from the Palestinians, we will lose the Jewish identity of Israel and our relative advantage over countries in the region.”
Lapid went on to strongly attack Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett’s plan for Israel to annex Area C in Judea and Samaria, describing it as “delusional”.
"Extreme rightist elements are pushing us toward delusional ideas of annexation that will lead us to a disaster known as a bi-national state,” he charged, adding, “I do not know if this is a PR stunt or a genuine intention, but we will not let that happen.”
Lapid called for a construction freeze outside the so-called “settlement blocs”, saying, ''There is no reason to continue to build settlements in areas that will not remain a part of Israel in any future agreement, or to invest billions in infrastructure which will eventually be given to the Palestinians. I'd rather spend the money on improving the lives of Israeli children, not improving the lives of Palestinian children.”
There is "no problem", he said, with construction in Gush Etzion or Jerusalem, ' but construction in isolated settlements causes international damage that is getting worse, as well as economic damage that each Israeli citizen feels in his pocket.”