Leading contender for PM says dividing Jerusalem is a non-starter

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, hoping to be Israel’s next prime minister, says he would not contemplate dividing the capital, even if it means no peace agreement with the Palestinians.

By: Batya Jerenberg

On December 6th, the day President Donald Trump shocked the world by declaring that his administration recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid spoke at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference and said that it was “time for the entire world to recognize united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,”

“If violence is the only argument against moving the embassy to Jerusalem, then it only proves it is the right thing to do. Now is the time to do what is right,” he stated.

On Monday, Lapid added an even more forceful declaration on the subject to Israel’s Diplomatic Correspondents Association, saying, “I will not negotiate over Jerusalem. We’re better off with no peace agreement than with an agreement that divides Jerusalem.”

He would, however, sacrifice “isolated settlements” in order to keep the major settlement blocs and a united Jerusalem. These would be “painful concessions,” he noted, but necessary ones.

Lapid, who sees himself as a strong contender to lead the country in the future, then went on to attack what he called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy failures. Saying that the country is losing support in Europe, among US Democrats and American Jews, and that Netanyahu is not standing up to Russia in order to prevent a dangerous Iranian presence in Syria, he castigated the prime minister’s decision to be both prime minister and foreign minister. A full-time foreign minister was a necessity, and he would appoint one if elected, he stated.

“We’re in a much worse place than we could be in,” he said. “The country is in an excellent situation, but that doesn’t contradict my assertion that a bad policy is in place.”