On Tuesday, Yesh Atid party chairman, Yair Lapid, discussed his views on peace talks with the Palestinians. Lapid, a former talk show host recently turned politician, made this speech at Ariel University Center in a settlement in the West Bank to announce his party’s foreign policy platform . Yesh Atid was registered in late April, and until Tuesday, the party had yet to formally announce its foreign policy plans.
Yesh Atid is slated to win up to 15 seats in the 120 seat parliament, and during his speech, Lapid attacked several of Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies. He focused on the need for negotiations with Palestinians, and said that Netanyahu’s claim that “there is no partner for peace” has only “weaken[ed]Israel’s position in the international arena and strengthen[ed] Hamas.”
Though Lapid stressed the need for diplomatic negotiations, he also tried carefully to attract right-leaning and middle ground voters, saying, “You come to find a solution. We’re not looking for a happy marriage with the Palestinians, but for a divorce agreement we can live with.”
Indeed, Lapid’s policies are certainly not going to win him any Palestinian suitors; he refuses to compromise on the issue of Jerusalem, saying that it should remain undivided and under Israeli sovereignty. He also called for Palestinians “to recognize that reality has changed since 1967 and the settlement blocs will stay within Israeli borders.” However, he also promises to uphold any agreements made with the Palestinians, refusing to partake in a government which “dissolves our present and future commitments with excuses.”
It seems that Lapid is attempting to win over some right-wing voters, especially with the settlement issue. Though Netanyahu’s party is expected to win the majority of seats in the election, Likud’s recent merge with Yisrael Beitenu has lead to a slight decrease in its popularity. Lapid hopes to gain some of the recent Likud defectors with key right-swinging issues such as Israeli settlements.
Lapid also addressed Yesh Atid’s attitude toward Iran. He said that “bombing an Iranian nuclear facility is an option that shouldn’t be taken off the table, but it is the final option,” and instead advocated for Israel joining an “international coalition led by the United States, which would strangle the Iranian regime until its collapse.”
Arutz Sheva: surprisingly unbiased and succinct account of Lapid’s statement.
Ahram Online: emphasized Lapid’s moderation.
The Chicago Tribune: speech and party in the context of the election
The Times of Israel: the need for committed negotiations with Palestinians
How does Yesh Atid’s policy tie into our class conversation about Palestinian Israeli peace talks? How has Israel’s stance changed from earlier negotiations? How might the emergence of this new party affect Israeli politics?