Yesh Atid Minister: Isolated Settlements Should Be Dismantled

Days after Yair Lapid told The New York Times he opposes a freeze on settlement construction, Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen says some settlements should be evacuated unilaterally.

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Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) said on Saturday that isolated settlements should be unilaterally evacuated as soon as possible. According to Cohen, "there is no doubt [the settlements] should be dismantled right now without waiting for negotiations."

Speaking at an event in Holon, Cohen said that "we must do everything so that Israel is not portrayed as a country doing everything not to reach negotiations we must sit at the negotiating table and try to achieve peace."

Cohen's statement come nearly a week after Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid said in an interview with The New York Times that he opposes a freeze on settlement construction as a gesture to jumpstart negotiations with the Palestinians.

In the interview, Lapid admitted that he had not spoken to nor met with any senior Palestinian official, but claimed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not a partner for peace.

Since being instated as finance minister, Lapid has refused to speak to Israeli media about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but his interview with The New York Times focused primarily on the matter. This seems to indicate that he prefers talking about diplomatic issues before an international audience.

Echoing Lapid's statements on Jerusalem, Minister Cohen said on Saturday that the capital should stay "unified forever" and that "politicians should insist on keeping East Jerusalem. He also touched on the issue of a Palestinian state ("it will be established, it is just a matter of time") as well as Syria, saying there could be a withdrawal from the Golan Heights in the framework of a peace agreement with Syria.

Mobile homes being transported from the site of Migron in the West Bank, Sept. 5, 2012.Credit: Moti Milrod