Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid opposes any division of Jerusalem as part of negotiations with the Palestinians, he said on Tuesday evening.
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"Ehud Olmert’s government went too far" in its talks with the Palestinians, Lapid said. "It was wrong when it began discussing issues that bore waiting on, such as Jerusalem and the right of return. I oppose any withdrawal in Jerusalem, which isn't only a place, but an idea as well."
Jerusalem is the founding ethos of the State of Israel, and a state never gives up a fundamental ethos, he said, speaking before the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel.
In response to a question on preconditions for resuming talks, Lapid answered, "Of course there are preconditions. If we look at the road map, it's all preconditions." In the road map which had been promoted by former U.S. president George Bush, both Israel and the Palestinians had had to do things they had not done before, Lapid said: the Palestinians had to beef up security, while Israel had to make concessions regarding the settlements. "Both sides understand we have to go back to the road map," Lapid said.
In his view, Lapid said, the Palestinian Authority should be allowed to establish a semi-state with temporary borders, and added that he had great expectations of Obama’s visit. "It is very complicated… we have to restart the process. There's no game on the table other than two states for two people. The only other option is a non-Jewish state, and I want to live in a Jewish state."
Lapid declined to discuss the possibility of sitting in coalition with the religious party Shas, which is diametrically opposed to his views on conscription for all, including the Haredim. He did say though in answer to a question from the audience, that Shas would not only reject his ideas, but him as well.
As for the coalition talks, he compared them to business, noting that there were many businesspeople in the audience. In business, he said, it isn't always a bad idea to leave things in the dark sometimes. He apologized for not giving a direct answer and added that it was a matter of only two to three weeks before the talks would be wrapped up.