Lapid: If Hamas Meets Quartet's Conditions, Yesh Atid Is Ready to Talk

In TIME column on Sunday, Finance Minister explains why he voted in favor of suspending peace talks.

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Haaretz
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Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid.Credit: Ilan Assayag
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Haaretz

Finance Minister Yair Lapid told Israel Radio on Sunday that his Yesh Atid party "would have what to talk about" with Hamas if the Gaza Strip's rulers were to recognize Israel, renounce terror and accept past Israeli-Palestinian agreements. However, Lapid said he saw no evidence that Hamas was so disposed.

The conditions Lapid mentioned are those set down by the Mideast Quartet (United States. United Nations, European Union and Russia) for Hamas to become a partner to peace negotiations.

"If Hamas accepts these conditions," said Lapid, "it won't be Hamas anymore, and we will have what to talk about, but so far I don't see this process taking place."

In a separate interview Sunday on Army Radio, Lapid was asked about his decision to stay in the government despite the collapse of his stated justification for being there – the peace process. "Hamas and Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] will not determine if Yesh Atid sits in the government or not," he replied.

Last week Abbas's Fatah movement and Hamas announced the beginning of negotiations to form a unity government, and Israel responded by suspending the peace talks with the PA, whose allotted nine months run out on Tuesday, and hitting the PA with economic sanctions.

Abbas has assured international leaders that he will be the head of any unity government and that it will accept the Quartet's conditions just as he has, a statement the United States termed "a positive development." At the same time, though, Hamas itself has given no indication it would make such declarations.

Also, in Time magazine online on Sunday, Lapid explained his vote in favor of suspending the peace talks, which passed the diplomatic-security cabinet unanimously. He wrote that he gave his assent "because Hamas is a not the legitimate representative of the Palestinians, but rather a Jihadist terror organization whose express purpose is to kill and maim Jews simply because they’re Jews.

"I voted the way I did," Lapid continued, "because I cannot understand how anyone could expect us to negotiate with a government, half of which claims to want to reach an agreement with us while the other half claims it is not bound by that same agreement." However, Hamas is making no such claim regarding a possible Abbas agreement with Israel.

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