Yair Lapid, chairperson of Israel’s centre party Yesh Atid (There is a future), met last week with the ambassadors to the Political and Security Committee of the Council and EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. He urged that the European Union should add Hezbollah’s political wing to its terrorism blacklist and outlaw the organization in its entirety throughout Europe. In 2013, the armed wing of Hezbollah was placed on EU’s blacklist. The question then was whether the military wing could be separated from the political wing which is socially active in Lebanon and has a veto in its government.
What might change the assessment is Hezbollah’s crucial role in the civil war in Syria where it has been supporting the Assad regime and its war crimes. It has also undergone a massive military build-up since the Lebanon war with Israel in 2006 and could be tempted to launch a new disastrous war, this time directly with Iran which is getting a foothold in Syria.
“We cannot allow terror organizations like Hezbollah operate freely in Europe. We cannot allow Europe to fund terror,” Lapid said in a statement.
Lapid’s party has 11 seats in the current Knesset, the Israeli parliament, but is trailing the government party Likud in the opinion polls. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pressed by a number of police investigations of alleged corruption and will have to resign if they will lead to prosecutions.
A decision to indict the prime minister is taken by the state attorney and might take months. Yair Lapid thinks that Netanyahu should consider resigning already now so that he can focus on his job and Israel’s real problems instead of talking to his lawyers.
As former finance minister, Lapid was asked by the police to give testimony in one of the corruption cases which involved his ministry. For this he was accused of trying to replace the government by the court system and not at the ballot box, but he explains: “In a democracy, the way to change the government is in the polls but I don’t think he can give the country the attention it needs.”
Does he still believe in a two state solution? His spokesperson replied to The Brussels Times that Yesh Atid believes that Israel needs to separate from the Palestinians as part of a regional process and referred to the party’s Seven Point Plan which was a summary of its platform in the 2015 elections.
Without going into any details on future borders, the plan states that, “Our aim is to create a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside a strong and secure Jewish state of Israel, with strict adherence to security arrangements and freedom of operation for the Israeli defense forces.”
While Lapid shares the current government’s position on some of the final issues that need to be settled in a permanent comprehensive peace solution, he apparently differs with the government on Israel’s need to initiate a regional conference together with pragmatic Arab states as a first step in the peace process with the Palestinians.
Yair Lapid might very well become Israel’s next prime minister if he will manage to put together a government coalition in next elections that might take place sooner than planned.
The Brussels Times