Yair Lapid: 'Government imposed second lockdown because they're completely lost'

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid blasts government's decision to impose new lockdown, says Netanyahu has 'no intention' of talking peace with PA

Arutz Sheva Staff, AFP ,

Flash 90

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has "no intention" of discussing peace with the Palestinian Authority, opposition leader Yair Lapid told AFP ahead of the signing of a landmark deal with the
United Arab Emirates.

US President Donald Trump will host a ceremony on Tuesday at which Netanyahu will sign normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the first Israel has agreed with an Arab state since the 1990s.

While opposition leader Lapid welcomed the Gulf deals, he argued Israel should also resume peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

"The current government is saying we have achieved agreements with moderate Sunni countries without paying the price of negotiating with the Palestinians. What I say is it's not a price. It's an Israeli interest," he told AFP at his parliamentary office.

The Palestinian Authority leadership has slammed the Gulf deals for going against decades of consensus among Arab states that a peace deal between Israel and the Pa is a prerequisite for ties with Israel.

Lapid, who heads the Yesh Atid party, criticized the Palestinian Authority for waiting for the Arab world and the international community to "do the job for them".

"They need to be proactive instead of victimizing themselves forever, instead of complaining all the time," said Lapid, arguing the Palestinian Authority's fundamental demands were unrealistic.

"This is not going to work," said Lapid. "They need to go back to the table. We need to go back to the table."

"I think we need to move forward and discuss this with the Palestinians under the two-state solution, and I don't think this government is going to do anything about it," he said.

Lapid accused Netanyahu's government of having "no intention of discussing anything with the Palestinians" as many of the premier's voters are against the creation of a Palestinian state.

Lapid's former allies Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi defected to join Netanyahu's government and now serve as defence and foreign ministers respectively.

Pointing to the Gulf deals, Lapid said it was clear both ministers "have no influence whatsoever" in government.

Netanyahu "signed the deal with the Emirates and yet later with Bahrain without telling them. It's not only that he didn't consult with them. They didn't even know," Lapid said.

Virus 'failure'

Netanyahu flew to the US just moments after announcing a second nationwide lockdown to tackle the coronavirus, a sign according to Lapid of the government's "complete failure" to address the health crisis.

"It's a very aggressive move. It's devastating for the economy and it's not that helpful in terms of stopping the epidemic," Lapid said.

According to an AFP tally over the past fortnight, Israel is second behind Bahrain for the world's highest coronavirus infection rate.

"The only reason our government has decided to go into the second lockdown is because they're completely lost," Lapid said.

"I need to be able to have a clear enough message for the people in order to gain from this," he said.

With many Israelis more focused on coronavirus and the ensuing financial crisis than the Gulf deals, the opposition chief believes he will be in a strong position when the next round of elections comes.

"Netanyahu never in his life ran on a bad economy," he said.