Israel’s peace no-hoper

Although no intelligent observer expected the new boy in Israeli politics, Ya’ir Lapid, whose Hebrew name translates to “shining torch”, to shine a light on the Middle East and usher in a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a few idiots, such as Time Magazine, which placed him among the world’s 100 most influential people, may have been fooled.

So, six months after his party, Yesh Atid, came second to Binyamin Netanhayu’s Likud in the Israeli elections, where does Lapid, who is now Israel’s finance minister, stand in regard to peace?

Here’s the latest assessment by Uri Avnery, veteran peace campaigner and former Knesset member, given in his latest weekly article:

During the election campaign, he [Lapid] appeared to be a man of the “center-left”. His whole bearing was that of “one of us”, the secular, liberal centre of the public, which is also identified with a vague desire for peace.

Lapid mouthed the appropriate vague phrases in favour of the two-state solution. But the suspicions of his adoring devotees should have been raised by his decision to open his campaign in – of all places – Ariel “University”, the flagship of the settlers. He also proclaimed that Jerusalem would never be divided.

On the morrow of the election Lapid struck his deal of unbreakable and unshakable brotherhood with [Naftali] Bennett, the extreme rightist. As the classic Hebrew saying goes: “Not for nothing did the sparrow go to the raven”.

This week Lapid granted an extra 50 million shekels to Ariel “University”, a huge bribe to the settlers at a time when social services are being cut to the bone. His budget does not strike a shekel from the government’s massive support for the settlements.

In an interview with the New York Times, Lapid disclosed his plan for peace: a Palestinian state with “temporary borders” (which means in practice less than half of the West Bank, leaving them with some 11% of historical Palestine.) Also, Jerusalem would remain united under Israeli control.

Mahmoud Abbas reacted almost at once: this is absolutely unacceptable. Even the untiring John Kerry could not bring the parties together on that basis.

In other words, 65 years after Israel was implanted on ethnically cleansed and territorially usurped Palestine, the Palestinians still have no Israeli partner for peace.

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