Lapid: Palestinians on the backburner, but not forgotten

“The most important relationship we have is with American Jewry,” Lapid said.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel’s government is focused on building regional ties and expanding the Abraham Accords normalization agreement with more and more countries, but that does not mean the Palestinian issue has been completely neglected, Foreign Minister Yaid Lapid said on Tuesday evening.

Speaking to the chair of Jewish Federations of North America, Lapid said that the Jewish State is prioritizing strengthening new relationships in the Middle East and Gulf, but is acutely aware that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not going away.

“I wouldn’t name names because this will harm the process, but of course, we’re working with the United States and with the new friends in the Emirates, in Bahrain and Morocco… in order to expand this to other countries,” Lapid said.

“This doesn’t mean we’re neglecting forever and ever the Palestinian issue that we also have to work on. We will always have to keep an eye both on Gaza and on Hezbollah up north.”

Lapid said that the ”complicated” eight-party coalition, which spans the political spectrum from left-wing to Islamist and right-wing parties, works together “surprisingly well.”

“We have come very quickly to the understanding that disagreement is not a [reason] to kill each other. It’s a way to have dialogue, to have better results.”

He said that the new government was working to move away from the “toxicity in the Knesset and the dialogue we had with American Jewry” which was present in the previous administration.

Pledging that the government would take action on issues like an egalitarian section at the Kotel and conversions in Israel which he said had driven a wedge between the Jewish State and diaspora Jewry.

“The most important relationship we have is with American Jewry,” Lapid said.

Referring to a comment from former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, which suggested it was more important for Israel to sustain support from Evangelical Christians than maintain relations with American Jews, Lapid promised to focus more on dialogue with Jewish communities outside of Israel.

On Wednesday, during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked ruled out the possibility of establishing a Palestinian statehood by the current government, saying that both Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Lapid will not be entering negotiations on the issue.

“The Israeli government won’t deliberate on the establishment of a Palestinian state under the present government of Bennett or Lapid when he comes into office under the rotational agreement,” she said.

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Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.