TEL AVIV – Yesh Atid chairman and Member of Knesset Yair Lapid declared on Monday that he will be running for prime minister in the next elections, and said that he will lead Israel to peace by calling for a unilateral Israeli pullout from parts of the West Bank.
“At the next election, I’ll be running for prime minister, and will ask the Israeli public for their support,” Lapid said.
Lapid also announced that he would be presenting a “comprehensive regional agreement” at the next elections, with the aim of “separating from the Palestinians.”
“The details may be complex, but the basic idea is simple – Israel doesn’t want to absorb 3.5 million Palestinians. It is time to separate and guarantee our future as a Jewish and democratic state,” Lapid said to journalists at the Jerusalem Press Club.
Lapid acknowledged that restarting the stalled peace talks is in doubt, especially in the face of the Palestinian terror that Israelis have faced in recent months, and noted that neither terrorism nor international pressure will move Israel toward an agreement.
“The perceived wisdom today is that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not possible,” said Lapid. “Some believe the point of no return has passed; others are waiting for a change in circumstances, or a change in leadership.”
However, he added, “this passive approach to our destiny is misguided and dangerous. We need an approach based on pragmatism and genuine security for both sides. The answer is separation. As decisively as possible.”
Lapid noted that the separation would not mean an end to Israeli security operations in the West Bank.
“The security coordination which exists today – and allows the IDF to act across the West Bank — must continue even after the separation. The Palestinian Authority will shout and claim that this is a breach of their sovereignty, but they know it is also in their own interest. If not for such coordination, Hamas will rise to power in the West Bank the same way it did in Gaza.”
Lapid promised to never allow that to happen and notes that a Hamas takeover is also the PA’s worst nightmare. “We cannot allow a terrorist state on our border, we cannot allow a repeat of the process after the disengagement from Gaza.”
Declaring that the next conflict is “only a matter of time,” the Yesh Atid leader said that Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south were preparing for Israel’s destruction. “As we sit here there are approximately 1,000 people digging terror tunnels in Gaza, some of them under the border and in Israel,” he added. Watch the video here.
While he admitted that his initiative would not win Palestinian agreement, Lapid said that it would at least pave the way toward “full and normal relations” with the entire Arab world as well as restoring Israel’s standing in the international arena.