Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon has said that the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority aim to create a framework for more talks. They are not, he claimed, intended to reach a permanent agreement.
“We are attempting to achieve a framework for a continuation of negotiations for a period exceeding the original nine months time-frame in which some thought that we would be able to reach a permanent agreement,” he said. “It is clear that there are big gaps, which are not new, but it is definitely in our interest to continue the talks.”
Ya’alon’s claim comes at a time when members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, from the Likud and Jewish Home Parties have called the talks futile. Nevertheless, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said in a meeting with his parliamentary bloc on Monday that he knows that the ongoing political process is real. “As someone who is familiar with what is happening in the diplomatic process, I can tell you it’s real,” he pointed out. “There’s a real opportunity, closer than meets the eye, to reach a solution. We shouldn’t miss this opportunity.”
He called on the cabinet of Prime Minister Netanyahu to exert more effort to utilise this opportunity, adding that Yesh Atid, the party which he heads, would support “brave decisions” towards getting a deal set between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Interior Minister Gideon Saar, meanwhile, said during a visit to the town of Sakhnin that he opposes the foreign minister’s initiative for population swaps with the Palestinian Authority as part of any peace agreement. “There is never going to be an option of an agreement with the PA based on land swaps that would place Israeli Arabs under PA jurisdiction,” he insisted.