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PM echoes Livni, extends hand to Palestinians

February 19, 2013 20:34

At conference announcing Livni had become 1st member of his coalition, Netanyahu says he hopes Livni will revive peace process.

Netanyahu, Livni at press conference Feb. 19, 2013

Netanyahu, Livni at press conference 370. (photo credit:LAHAV HARKOV)

Israel is extending its hand once more for peace with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at a press conference while announcing that former foreign minister Tzipi Livni had joined his coalition and will lead the Israeli peace negotiating team.

"I am hoping for a peace deal based on two states for two people, as per the parameters I outlined during my speech at Bar Ilan University," Netanyahu said at the conference. "Today Israel extends its hand once more for peace. We want a peace process, and we hope that it will yield results."

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The prime minister also mentioned domestic issues more emblematic of potential coalition partners Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi, including equalizing the burden of service and lowering commodity prices. He also spoke of the importance of securing Israel's borders amid dangers emanating from Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, which he called "unprecedented threats."

"We must set aside our disagreements and join forces for the State of Israel," Netanyahu said. "The State of Israel now needs a large national unity government. Today we're making the first step towards this end."

Speaking after him, Livni echoed the prime minister's sentiments, focusing largely on her role as a future peace negotiator.

"Two-and-a-half months ago we established Hatnua with the intention of fighting for a peace deal," she said. Though she also mentioned the issues of burden of service and commodity prices, Livni said "Iran, Syria, the Palestinians are not less pressing than these domestic issues."

Livni is set to be Israel's next justice minister, while her party's number three, Amir Peretz, will be the environmental protection minister. In addition, a member of Livni's party will chair an unspecified Knesset committee.

Livni added a call for other parties to "set aside their campaigning" and join a wide Netanyahu-led coalition.
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