Minister: Lack of peace will hurt Israeli economy

Associated Press
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In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 photo, a Thai worker sits in a back of a truck load with flowers in the fields of the West Bank Jordan Valley Jewish settlement of Petsael. For Israeli farmers in the West Bank's Jordan Valley, an international campaign to boycott settlement products has turned almost overnight from a distant nuisance into a harsh economic reality. The export-driven income of growers in the valley's 21 settlements dropped by 15 percent, or $29 million dollars, last year because Western European supermarket chains trying to avoid political entanglements largely stopped buying the valley's grapes, dates and sweet peppers. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

NETIV HAGDUD, West Bank (AP) — Israel's finance minister says Israel will be hurt economically by growing international isolation if it fails to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Yair Lapid says his ministry has run through various scenarios and found that "a continuation of the existing situation will hurt the pocketbook of each of us."

Lapid spoke to the Israeli news website Ynet in response to an announcement Friday that Israel plans to build 1,400 more homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories the Palestinians seek for a state.

Lapid says the announcement is harmful at a time of ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. He warned that "if we don't make progress with the Palestinians, we will lose the sympathy of the world and that's our legitimacy."