Yair Lapid
Yair LapidGili Yaari/Flash90

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid responded on Monday to the controversy surrounding the meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas at his Rosh Pina home last week.

"This government was formed with a clear statement that on the one hand there will be no political negotiations on the other hand it will not take any step that will interfere with the future possibility that there will be such negotiations and we fulfil both conditions," Lapid explained.

He said, "When you form a government, the political constraints are clear. All the way from Elkin and Ayelet Shaked to Mansour Abbas. In this, it is a government that works to strengthen the Palestinian Authority. There have been two meetings between the defense minister and Abbas. Our goal is to enable the citizens of the PA to live a better life and to preserve the option of negotiations."

However, he said that he had no intention of meeting with Abbas himself in the foreseeable future. "It's not on the agenda. I do not rule out a meeting with him, but there is no reason for such a meeting at the moment. If there is a political justification I have no problem meeting with him, but there is no such justification."

"I maintain contact with Palestinian Authority officials on a working level. The State of Israel promotes excellent cooperation with them at the security and civilian level. This is the most I can achieve with the current coalition and the world accepts it. The Palestinians make peace calls but run to international bodies and try to harm us. There is no point in me deluding the world that there is something here that can not exist in this government. We want to maintain the trust that is an asset at the political level," he added.

Asked whether after the rotation when he is prime minister, the situation will allow for political progress, the foreign minister replied, "Even in August 2023, when the rotation takes place, the composition of the government will remain the same and the agreements will remain that way. I intend to respect them."