Netanyahu Belittles Lapid's Demand to Present His Map of Israel's Future Borders

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Netanyahu and Lapid. Credit: Archive

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's aides ridiculed Finance Minister Yair Lapid's demand on Sunday that the premier present his "map" of Israel's future borders.

"Any map that is presented will become the Palestinians' point of departure," said an aide to the premier, referring to statements Lapid made at the Herzliya Conference.

The Prime Minister's Office likewise dismissed Lapid's new peace plan, which is highlighted by the evacuation of isolated West Bank settlements.

"Anyone with experience in affairs of state knows that you don't make concessions in return for nothing – certainly not to a government that includes a terror organization which wants to annihilate Israel," an aide to Netanyahu said. "We've already seen the result of unilateral withdrawals from Gaza."

At the high-powered annual conference, Lapid blamed Netanyahu for the crisis in relations with the United States over the comatose peace process. Lapid vowed to bring down Netanyahu's government should there be any attempt to annex West Bank settlements, and called on the premier to instead reveal his "map" of where Israel's future borders with the Palestinians should lie.

In his speech, Lapid presented his own peace plan, whose first stage would be an Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank where there are no settlements, though the Israel Defense Forces would retain the ability to act anywhere in the West Bank if the need arose. At the same time, Israel would institute a freeze on construction outside the large settlement blocs.

In the second stage, he said, Israel would "move into the settlement blocks while evacuating the isolated settlements." In this stage as well, he said, the IDF would retain the right to act anywhere in the West Bank, while redeploying in coordination with the United States.

"During this stage there will be direct negotiations [with the Palestinians] with the mediation of the United States, in Ramallah and Jerusalem, on final borders," he said. In the third and last stage, final borders between Israel and a Palestinian state would be set, including land swaps, and talks on the remaining core issues would get underway.

"The final map will be the result of negotiations," Lapid said. "The maps of the first two stages are a clear Israeli interest, and there's no reason for us not to start drawing them now. As soon as they are presented, we can bring the moderate Arab states into the agreement and turn it into a regional one."

Lapid said the reason the government had not presented any maps was that it did not want to freeze settlement construction outside the large blocs. "But such a freeze is not a threat to us," he said. "This is exactly what we have to do. There's no reason to continue maintaining settlements in areas that will not remain within the territory of the State of Israel in any future agreement, or to invest billions in infrastructure that in the end we will give as a gift to the Palestinians."

About an hour before their speeches at the Herzliya Conference, Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett gave a preview of them during the ministers meeting convened by Netanyahu to explore alternatives in the wake of the failed peace talks.

As at the conference, Livni and Lapid joined forces in threatening to bolt the coalition if any move was made to annex West Bank territory, while Bennett went over his plan to annex most of the West Bank, beginning with Gush Etzion.

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