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April 9, 2017 12:37 pm

Stop Denying the Israeli Consensus on the Palestinians

avatar by Jonathan S. Tobin /

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Yair Lapid. Photo: Facebook. – Yair Lapid is the current favorite to become prime minister when the Israeli people go to the polls to elect a new Knesset. But whether or not the former television star  — who leads the centrist Yesh Atid Party — winds up succeeding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he has already done something that ought to influence international opinion about the Middle East conflict. The only question is whether those determined to impose their will on the Jewish state will listen.

Last month, Lapid made it clear that his effort to unseat Netanyahu will be conducted on a platform that will be remarkably similar to that of the prime minister. As Haaretz reported, Lapid said that any negotiations with the Palestinians would need to be conducted “in very slow stages.” How slow a process does Lapid envision? His answer was that it will take “15-20 years,” and that “the main element of [the process will be] security arrangements.”

Why would he move so slow when so many of his country’s critics, as well as its left-wing political parties and former generals who are Netanyahu critics, claim that it is a matter of urgency to withdraw from the West Bank as soon as possible? Lapid’s answer is succinct: “I don’t believe the Palestinians.”

His stance is also similar to that of the current titular head of the opposition bloc in the current Knesset — Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Zionist Union Party. Herzog issued his own peace plan in February, in which he asserted that peace would have to wait until at least 10 years passed, during which time the Palestinians would need to completely refrain from anti-Israel terrorism.

This means that both the current head of the opposition to Netanyahu, and the man who has the best chance to beat him, largely agree with the prime minister on the one issue where Israel’s critics are most desirous of a policy change.

Rather than advocate a surrender of the disputed territories in order to create a Palestinian state as soon as possible, all three leaders agree that peace is nowhere in sight. Their reason is that Palestinian intentions toward Israel are so nefarious that all Israel would be doing is attempting to trade land for terror, rather than the peace that it seeks. In a remarkable demonstration of broad consensus, Netanyahu, Herzog and Lapid all understand that until a sea change occurs within the Palestinian political culture that will render peace acceptable to them, Israel has no alternative but to hold its ground.

This destroys the notion that the Israeli public is split down the middle on the peace process. Perhaps there was a division — but that ended when Palestinian terror blew up the Oslo agreements, and as the carnage of the Second Intifada convinced most Israelis that their high hopes for obtaining peace had been misplaced. Since then, the Israeli left has been marginalized.

It’s possible that Lapid is attempting to deceive the Israeli public, and would behave differently if he was elected. Lapid’s chief foreign policy advisers are left-wingers, and may believe that their candidate is only saying what he must in order to get elected. But even if that is true, Lapid’s determination not to let himself be portrayed as soft is significant, because it shows that he understands that winning an Israeli election will require a realistic stance on peace.

Israel’s critics should pay attention to what Lapid is saying, because it demonstrates that there is a consensus about peace and territorial withdrawal. Those who ignore this consensus are seeking to overthrow the verdict of democracy, and forgetting that the Israeli electorate has a much firmer grasp of the Jewish state’s security situation than the foreign kibitzers who want peace now.

Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of and a contributing writer to National Review. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.

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  • peace=destruction

    and not even one lousy word on Gaza which became a stronghold and a safe haven for Islamist terrorism (not only Hamas but also various Jihadist al qaeda movements) the minute Israel withdrew from it.

  • Paul Winter

    Both Lapid and Netanyahu are useless. Any leader with Israeli interests at heart would call a quit to “peace talks” and declare Israeli law over all of Judea and Samaria. The people living there should become resident aliens and should be pressured to emigrate. Only those willing to swear loyalty to Israel and then prove it by serving in the IDF should become Israelis. Israelis making “painful concessions” is an aspect of ghetto politics and a denial of both sovereignty and reality. A winner of wars does not make concessions! The Arabs have rejected peace and with it any consideration regarding self-government.

  • Hard Little Machine

    His leadership would be worse than Olmert

  • Mladen_Andrijasevic

    Electing Ya’ir Lapid would be a disaster for Israel. Here is why:

    Sarah Honig: The Gospel according to Lapid
    Is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally culpable for the atrocious deal which US President Barack Obama and his multinational cohort contracted with Iran? Exuding extraordinary opportunism, MK Ya’ir Lapid screams just that into every available microphone.

    I am disgusted with Yair Lapid
    This is beyond disgusting. Lapid was against Netanyahu speaking to Congress. Lapid accused Netanyahu of destroying ties with the US whereas we now know for certain, thanks to Michael Oren’s book Ally, that the deterioration of relations between the US and Israel was entirely Obama’s doing.

    Lapid is either totally ignorant as what has happened to the relations between the US and Israel or he knows full well what happened and is just being a liar and a hypocrite.

    • markscotto

      Essentially, you’re accusing Lapid of acting like a politician, i.e. criticizing the government. Lapid suggested that if he were the leader, Obama would have made a better deal with Iran because he would have had a better relationship with Obama. This is one of those statements that is unprovable. One thing we know about Netanyahu is that he doesn’t get along very well with a lot of people; he’s got a lot of ex-wives and a lot of ex-colleagues. Would Lapid have done better or would he do better? I have no idea, but I certainly don’t hold it against him that he criticized Netanyahu.

  • garry pollack


  • garry pollack

    Let’s see…if I say something real nice will U guys still put a “pending” on me…I M proud to be a Jew & a Zionist!!!

  • Ilbert Phillips

    When Israel unilaterally left Gaza, hoping the Palestinians would take over Gaza and govern it to benefit the Palestinian people. It was a religious implemented by believers. The believed that if given a chance the Palestinians would behave rationally and choose to live in peace. This also meant that the Israelis who supported this unilateral move did not believe that Palestinians did not believe what they have made clear in their charter, they want to destroy the state of Israel. Beliefs can be tough and dangerous.

  • Joseph Feld

    With President Trump a longstanding friend of P M Bibi there should be some agreement achieved. Does the PA have the quality of leaders who can achieve gradual transition? We should work within a regional framework with Jordan and Egypt, and probably Saudi, playing a role.

  • Pepper Wingate

    Time for the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem to be returned. It was illegally occupied by the Jordanian Army in 1948. Only two countries recognised the occupation, Britain and Pakistan. Now everyone accepts the Jordanian occupation as legitimate and Israel’s reclaiming the area as an illegal occupation. Time for Israel to reclaim Jerusalem.

  • A.S.F.

    Common Sense: Religious and political extremists tend to reject the notion.

  • Reb_Yaakov

    Where there is no consensus is on Israel’s being a Jewish state. The ideological term has only some obscure ethnic meaning that rings hollow. A Jewish state is one that adheres to the Jewish way of life.

    The adjective “painful” with regard to territorial withdrawal has become trite. Of course, it would not be prudent to give up land in the absence of a peace agreement that seems likely to succeed. But the expansion of Israeli settlements, which is interpreted by many as a taking of land, does not give anyone the impression that Israel is at all interested in peace, either.