Lapid Dodges Abbas' Rosh Hashanah Phone Call

Just days after Abbas declared 'Israel is not a partner for peace' in his UN speech, PM Lapid rebuffs the Palestinian president's request for a Rosh Hashanah phone call, claiming such a request was never received by his office

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid attends a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, last week.
Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid attends a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, last week.Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt /AP
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas forwarded an official request to call Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and wish him a happy Rosh Hashanah – but the call has yet to take place.

Initially, Lapid's spokesperson Roy Konkol told Haaretz that the request to phone the prime minister – which was reported by the Walla news site –had not been received. The Prime Minister's Office later said that the request may have been forwarded Sunday on Rosh Hashanah eve, but was not received until Wednesday. Sources in the Prime Minister's Office say that the call will take place, but only if the Palestinians insist that it is relevant given that the holiday is now over.

Over the past few days, the Palestinian president spoke with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and wished them both a happy Rosh Hashanah. During these phone calls, Abbas expressed his intention to speak with Lapid. Unlike his coalition partner Gantz, Lapid has refrained from meeting with the Palestinian leader and has not engaged in any discussions about security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with him.

The last time the two leaders spoke was in June, just days after Lapid replaced his predecessor Naftali Bennett as prime minister. That was the first phone call between an Israeli leader and the Palestinian president since 2017. In an interview with Haaretz earlier this week, Lapid spoke about that call : “I wished him a happy holiday [Eid al-Adha] and then I heard him talking about 50 Holocausts in Germany, and I was a bit sorry I had done it. It made me furious. It’s unforgivable,” he said.

"But in the end, Israel’s interests are important to me, not my emotions,” Lapid continued. “I don’t think in terms of ‘there is a partner’ or ‘there is no partner’ [for making a peace deal], but what’s good for Israel, and that’s to separate itself from the Palestinians as long as our security is maintained."

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Lapid also expressed his support for the two-state solution. "An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel's security, for Israel's economy and for the future of our children," he said.

The prime minister added that the one condition Israel has for such a partnership is that "a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one."

During his speech at the UN General Assembly last week, Abbas stated that "Israel is not a partner for peace. It is working to destroy the two-state-solution." However, the Palestinian leader also acknowledged Lapid's talk of the two-state solution as a positive step. "The true test for the credibility of this task is to go back to negotiations based on the Arab Peace Initiative immediately," he said, adding that Israel must then cease all unilateral measures that endanger the two-state solution.

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