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Lapid: Netanyahu should be more proactive in peace talks

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid said he was pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be more proactive in talks with the Palestinians.

“The most important thing is to go back to the negotiating table and talk until the white smoke comes out,” Lapid said in an interview published Friday by the Washington Post. “I’m talking constantly to our prime minister, saying we have to be more proactive.”

Lapid’s remarks come after criticism from some members of his Yesh Atid Party that he has not been assertive enough in defending the two-state solution against pronouncements from others in the government that it is dead.

The Obama administration is moving forward with its bid to revive the peace talks and Secretary of State John Kerry has appealed to American Jews to press the Israeli leadership to hew to the two-state solution.

“For me, there’s no other game in town but the two-state solution,” Lapid told the Post. “The Palestinians must have their own country, and the Israelis must understand that the Palestinians should have their own country. I’m going to push for this as hard as I can because I think this is really important for Israel.”

Lapid also told the Post that Netanyahu “has been pretty consistent” in supporting the two-state solution and this is “not an easy thing to say” for a member of the Likud party. It “shows that he means business because he’s paying a political price,” Lapid said.

In separate interviews with the same Post correspondent, Lally Weymouth, Netanyahu affirmed his commitment to negotiations. Naftali Bennett, the economy minister who heads the Jewish Home Party and who has declared the two-state solution dead, said he would not stand in the way of talks.

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