Livni criticizes Obama’s chronology for peace talks

All core issues must be discussed simultaneously, says opposition leader.

May 29, 2011 17:19
2 minute read.
Tzipi Livni at a live Q&A session, Sunday.

tzipi livni_311. (photo credit: Idan Gross )

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni spoke out against the sequence for peace talks that US President Barack Obama outlined in a landmark Middle East address 10 days ago, when she told students at the Rishon Lezion College of Management on Sunday that all the core issues of the conflict must be discussed simultaneously.

In a question and answer session that was broadcast live on Facebook, Livni came out against Obama’s assertion that the issues of refugees and Jerusalem could only be dealt with after borders and security arrangements are set.

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“We don’t need to delay any issue,” Livni said. “I think we should be dealing with all the disputes. I am worried when we put the spotlight on one issue – it raises too many international questions.”

Livni expressed concern that dealing with issues one at a time could change a conflict between nations to a religious conflict.

She warned that “religious conflicts are not solvable.”

The rest of Livni’s criticism was reserved for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who she blamed for Israel’s international isolation, and for not taking steps to prevent the Egyptians from opening the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip.

“It was known that the Egyptians were considering opening the crossings,” she said. “With all the focuses on the speeches in Washington, couldn’t someone have demanded that our agreements with Egypt be respected? Did this issue even get dealt with by the government? The lack of policy is bad for Israel.”

Commenting on Hamas, Livni told the students, “A government that tries to be tough on Hamas has harmed our security because of attempts to break the borders and the blockade.”

Livni said it was possible to return to negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, without giving legitimacy to Hamas.

She said such talks could prevent the United Nations General Assembly vote on a Palestinian state that is set for September.

Earlier Sunday in an interview with Israel Radio, Livni called Netanyahu’s clash with Obama in Washington harmful and superfluous. She said the only benefit from the dispute was to Netanyahu politically.

Several polls over the weekend revealed a rise in support for Netanyahu and his Likud Party at Livni and her Kadima Party’s expense.

A Teleseker poll in Ma’ariv found that only 28.3 percent of Israelis were satisfied with Livni’s performance as opposition leader, while 63.6% were dissatisfied.

The same poll found that 53.1% backed a national-unity government of Likud and Kadima, and only 37.9% did not want such a coalition. When asked why she was not joining the government, Livni blamed Netanyahu for not making it happen.

“The public’s support for unity is a statement of no-confidence in the government of Netanyahu,” she said. “Kadima can support the government from outside when it does the right things, and continues to provide a worthy alternative.”

Michal Toiba contributed to this report.

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