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Netanyahu has ‘no intention’ of talking to Palestinians: opposition chief

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “no intention” of discussing peace with the Palestinians, opposition leader Yair Lapid told AFP ahead of the signing of landmark deals with the UAE and Bahrain.

“This government has no intention of discussing anything with the Palestinians,” said Lapid, who pushed for the resumption of peace talks.

The opposition chief spoke to AFP ahead of a signing ceremony hosted by US President Donald Trump at which Netanyahu will sign normalisation deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the first Israel has agreed with an Arab state since the 1990s.

While centrist leader Lapid welcomed the Gulf deals, he argued Israel should also resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

“The current government is saying we have achieved agreements with moderate Sunni countries without paying the price of negotiating with the Palestinians. What I say is it’s not a price. It’s an Israeli interest,” he told AFP at his parliamentary office.

Netanyahu flew to Washington just moments after telling Israelis a second nationwide lockdown will be imposed to tackle the coronavirus.

For Lapid, the move showed the government’s “complete failure” to tackle the pandemic.

“It’s a very aggressive move. It’s devastating for the economy and it’s not that helpful in terms of stopping the epidemic,” Lapid said.

According to an AFP tally over the past fortnight, Israel is second behind Bahrain for the world’s highest coronavirus infection rate.

“The only reason our government has decided to go into the second lockdown is because they’re completely lost,” Lapid said.