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Lapid on peace talks: 'Our role is to back the prime minister'

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid says that the main role of his party within the coalition is to make sure that the Israeli government remains committed to negotiations with the Palestinians, calling US Secretary of State John Kerry "a very fair mediator."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid leave after a joint news conference in Jerusalem July 3, 2013. Israel initiated a tender for two new private seaports to operate beside existing government-owned ports in Haifa and Ashdod in a bid to stir up competition and lower the costs of good in Israel. Each new port will cost about $1 billion to build. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX11AV6
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Exactly one month has passed since the chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, took his involvement in the diplomatic process up a notch. Since then, the negotiations with the Palestinians have kept steady on his agenda. Lapid’s diplomatic frenzy began with a long post on his Facebook page on Dec. 8, in which he explained how critical a diplomatic agreement is for the Israeli economy. Later, he devoted entire speeches to his commitment to reaching an agreement with the Palestinians. On Jan. 6, he began his faction’s meeting by calling on the prime minister not to miss an opportunity to reach an arrangement, “which will enable us to separate from the Palestinians.”

Judging by the most recent polls, his increasing involvement with the diplomatic negotiations, which Lapid preferred to underplay at the start of his political career, has actually been good for him. A poll conducted by Israeli TV Channel 2 earlier this week gave his Yesh Atid Party 14 seats. This could indicate that the party’s long decline in the polls since the last election has finally been halted. While it is still five seats short of Lapid’s remarkable achievement in that election, it is good news for someone whose political eulogy had already been written.

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