Lapid: ‘Talk Until the White Smoke Comes Out’

Yair Lapid shares his views on Israel-PA talks, settlements, and his friendship with Naftali Bennett.


Finance Minister Yair Lapid
Finance Minister Yair Lapid
Assaf Shilo

Yair Lapid spoke to the Washington Post this week, in an interview that focused on the chances of peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“The most important thing is to go back to the negotiating table and talk until the white smoke comes out,” Lapid told interviewer Lally Weymouth.

Weymouth expressed doubt that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is interested in creating a PA state, saying that “nobody in the outside world believes him” when he expresses support for the “two-state solution.”

Lapid reiterated his belief that Netanyahu is open to creating a PA state in Judea and Samaria. He noted that it is hard for Netanyahu to take the step of freezing all construction for Israelis living in Judea and Samaria – one of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ preconditions for talks – because the PA previously snubbed Israeli attempts to negotiate despite a lengthy construction freeze.

“To ask an Israeli prime minister to jeopardize the existence of his own government without knowing what the end results will be is a lot to ask,” he explained. Weymouth replied, “I don’t see why.”

The two also discussed the situation in Syria. Lapid did not support or criticize the Obama administration’s recent decision to arm the Syrian opposition, but noted that some of the opposition forces “are worse than the government that they’re fighting against.”

Lapid also spoke of his working relationship with Naftali Bennett, head of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction. The two disagree on some issues, including Judea and Samaria, he said, but share similar views on domestic issues. “Also, we are personal friends,” he added.

When asked if he aspires to be Prime Minister someday, Lapid said, “I’m in no hurry… But if you’re going into politics, of course you aspire to a position which is a bit higher than the one that I’m holding now.”