By Aaron Klein Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama
TEL AVIV – In recent weeks, representatives for the Obama administration have held meetings with a senior politician here in which the U.S. delegates brought up the possibility of replacing Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, according to an informed Jerusalem diplomatic source.
The meetings were held with Israel’s popular finance minister, Yair Lapid, founder and leader of the Yesh Atid Party, which became the second-largest party in the Knesset winning 19 seats in the last election.
The diplomatic source said the Obama administration identified Lapid as a moderate who could be helpful in pushing the Israeli government into accepting the framework to create a future Palestinian state.
According to the source, the talks included the possibility of Lapid bolting Netanyahu’s government if the prime minister rejects the U.S.-brokered regional talks.
Lapid, however, is unlikely to abandon his government post over talks the themselves have been less than enthusiastic about.
Such a move could be politically dangerous for Lapid, with polls showing a significant segment of the Israeli public has grown weary of the bid to create a Palestinian state amid regional turmoil, including the Syrian civil war, recent changes of leadership in Egypt and fears over Iran’s nuclear program.
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