FM Lapid: pushing for renewed diplomatic process

January 26, 2022 by TPS
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Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will “continue to make an effort” to restart the defunct diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority (PA), he stated, a day after meeting a possible successor to PA head Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid addresses a Yesh Atid faction meeting at the Knesset, on Nov. 8, 2021. Photo by Oliiver Fitoussi/Flash90

Lapid met on Sunday night at his home in Tel Aviv with PA Minister Hussein A-Sheikh, the minister of Civil Affairs and a Member of the Fatah Central Committee.

A-Sheikh stated on Twitter that the two “discussed several political and bilateral issues,” and he “highlighted the need for a political horizon between the two parties based on international legitimacy.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was reportedly informed in advance of the meeting, as was Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Asked during the Yesh Atid faction meeting on Monday about the meeting, Lapid said “I will do as much as I can to convince my government partners to go for a diplomatic move, I think that is the correct thing, but I will not do anything behind their backs and I will not do anything against their will.”

“Everything is completely coordinated with both the prime minister and the defence minister and will continue to be fully coordinated. At the moment, the composition of the government does not allow us to go on a political move, I will continue to make an effort to convince them otherwise,” he stated.

This meeting between Lapid and A-Sheikh is the latest in several that took place between senior Israeli and PA officials.

Gantz hosted PA head Mahmoud Abbas at his home in Rosh Ha’Ayin at the end of December for “a discussion on a number of security and civilian topics.”

A few weeks ago, Lapid also met with the head of PA intelligence Majd Faraj.

A-Sheikh and Faraj are the closest officials to Abbas and are leading candidates to succeed him.

In his meetings, Lapid has pointed to Israel’s preferences for Abbas’ heirs.

A-Sheikh enjoys good relations with officials in Israel and this is a huge advantage for him in the race for the PA leadership.

Lapid’s meetings, together with a series of steps taken by Abbas in recent years, have marked the two as the heirs who are preferred by the Israeli defence establishment as Abbas’ successors.

In Israel, the two are seen capable to manage the affairs of the Palestinian Authority, even though in the Palestinian arena itself they are attacked because they allegedly accepted the idea of “economic peace” with Israel, an idea that is completely contrary to the “principles of the Palestinian national project.”

Faraj and A-Sheikh have accompanied Abbas on his diplomatic travels and important meetings in Ramallah.

Faraj has good relations with the CIA and he still enjoys financial assistance that has continued throughout the years of the Donald Trump presidency.

Report from Aryeh Savir and Baruch Yedid/TPS

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