Israel needs to learn the lessons from the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, but not use it as a reason to say no to more compromises, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said on Tuesday.
Livni, who heads Israel’s negotiating team with the Palestinians, said that just as Israel will need to make compromises, so too will the Palestinians.
Furthermore, she said in a speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations annual Israel mission in Jerusalem, the Palestinians need “to understand that the only option for creating a state runs through the negotiating room.”
Livni was full of praise for US Secretary of State John Kerry. She called him a “game changer” who has listened carefully to both sides, and tried to discern from Israel “what is the deal maker, and what is the deal breaker” before presenting his paper that is to form the basis for continued negotiations.
“Frankly I don’t think that we are going to be in love with this paper, but I hope that we can live with this paper, and I’m sure this also applies to the Palestinian side,” she said.
Livni said Kerry already performed two important tasks. The first was to gain the trust of the international community, and get the Russians, Europeans and the Arab world to stay outside the “tent” and not disturb those negotiating inside.
Second, she said, the international community got another important message from Kerry: Keep the Palestinians in the negotiation room, and don’t let them think that if they say no to a deal the world will step in and impose a better deal from their perspective on Israel.
Regarding the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, which she supported and voted for, Livni said, “I want to ask those who are talking now about disengagement, do you really believe that Israel should replant Gush Katif there?” She came out firmly against mixing security and settlements, saying that “in terms of security, it is the IDF’s role to defend citizens.
I don’t think it is a good idea to send citizens, young people, with children, in order to give security.”
Livni said she has no trouble defending Israel’s security requirements, and the actions of IDF soldiers, around the world. What she does have difficulty explaining, she said, was building additional homes in isolated settlements – not in the settlement blocs – while talking about dividing the land and creating a two-state solution.