In a significant development, Israeli finance minister Yair Lapid stressed the urgent need to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. He warned that failure to do so could lead to a European boycott of the Jewish state seriously impacting exports, the loss of thousands of jobs, soaring inflation and internal unrest. The Institute of National Security, a Tel Aviv think tank, warned that “Israel’s economy is much more vulnerable than its national security.” EU foreign ministers dangled a large juicy carrot pledging “an unprecedented European political, economic and security support package” to both Israelis and Palestinians “in the context of a final status agreement.” This would be an unprecedented win-win for both sides of the conflict. The EU cautioned Israel that further settlement construction could jeopardize the EU offer. Mr. Lapid warned that failure to heed the EU strictures could isolate Israel from the EU and other trading partners - much like former apartheid South Africa.
Lapid was also vehemently opposed to Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state. He said this was merely a delaying tactic to forestall the peace process. Israel would be wise to seize the moment and accept the generous EU offer and embrace John Kerry’s brokered efforts in bringing about a final peaceful settlement to the festering Middle East conflict