As US Secretary of State John Kerry departed the region after five days of intensive shuttle diplomacy with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Finance Minister Yair Lapid
on Monday spoke out in favor of the ongoing peace talks in a meeting of his Yesh Atid
"As someone who knows the progress in the diplomatic process – it's real," Lapid told his party's lawmakers. "There is a real opportunity here, closer than it appears, to reach an agreement. We cannot miss it."
Lapid's words are in direct contrast to other members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
coalition, including members of his own Likud
party as well as MKs from the pro-settlement Habayit Hayehudi, who repeatedly state that the US-supervised talks are without purpose.
The finance minister also expressed his support for Netanyahu in the peace talks, calling on him "to make every effort to take advantage of this opportunity Yesh Atid will stand behind any courageous decisions made to reach an agreement to disengage from the Palestinians.
"This is not a happy marriage, but rather a divorce," he added. "It's time for an amicable separation."
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert also advocated Monday for an agreement with the Palestinians, saying that only a stupid leader would turn his nose up at peace.
"Even a very stupid prime minister who makes peace will get positive press," Olmert said in a speech at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "But a prime minister who is an idiot will not make peace."