While US Secretary of State John Kerry left Monday without a framework for
continued Israeli-Palestinian talks, he did uncover sharp fault lines within
Israel’s government, fault lines that surfaced Tuesday in distinctly contrasting
speeches by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Tzipi
Bayit Yehudi chairman Bennett, speaking at Tel Aviv University’s
Institute for National Security Studies, laid down his party’s red lines and
said it would not accept an agreement based on the pre-1967 lines.
games are over,” he said. “We will not play word games anymore. The 1967 lines
means the division of Jerusalem. We will never agree to give up a united
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and only Israel. We will not accept a
Palestinian terror state. We will not accept an agreement based on the 1967
lines. We will not beg for land swaps as if we are talking about a cutand- paste
in a Word document.”
Bennett criticized Foreign Minister Avigdor
Liberman’s statement to Israeli ambassadors on Sunday that Israel’s border would
likely be near the Trans-Israel Highway, which is known as Route 6.
won’t accept a border on Route 6 that would enable firing missiles on Route 4
[the Coastal Road],” Bennett said.
“We won’t sit in a government that,
because of international pressure, will endanger the lives of our children and
divide our capital. We will not sit in a government that will make the easy and
He warned that creating a Palestinian state would
create a demographic problem since millions of descendants of Palestinian
refugees will flood into the new state. He said they would stand near Route 6
and shout that they want to go home.
In a clear reference to US pressure,
Bennett said that “if our friends push us to commit suicide, even if it is
coming from good intentions, we will say ‘no.’” The Jerusalem Post reported
Bennett’s red lines from closed conversations last week. Following meetings with
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the last few days, he decided to say them
publicly, so that they would be clear to his constituents and all sides involved
in the negotiations.
He made a point of not saying he has a problem with
continued negotiations, ruling out only the formal adoption of a plan that would
be unacceptable to him.
Some two hours after his remarks, Hatnua leader
Livni spoke to students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Law School and
did not hide her anger at the comments.
Referring to Bennett, though
without at first mentioning his name, Livni said that all those “who speak in
the name of security” are making the country weaker.
She said that the
strength of the IDF was based first on those who serve, but also in a large part
because of “our close, strategic [and] critical relationship with the
The best and the strongest soldier not only needs the support of his
country, but also international legitimacy to act, she said, adding that such
legitimacy comes from a willingness to negotiate.
Livni is heading the
talks with the Palestinians.
Referring to Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in
2008-2009, Livni said the IDF was able to fight for three weeks inside the Gaza
Strip “partly because we were engaged in a diplomatic process, and in part
because I came in as a foreign minster and said, ‘We want an agreement [with the
Palestinians], but not [with Hamas], because they don’t recognize our existence
and are engaged in terror.”
She contrasted that situation with the
fallout from the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010 when, at a time when there was no
diplomatic process, it took “20 seconds” before everyone was “on our
“Israel can get legitimacy for its security, for its right to
defend itself [and] to fight terror, only when it is understandable to the
world, and when it fights for its citizens’ lives and does not send its citizens
to live [in] places that will doubtfully remain and be part of Israel in the
future,” she said.
Livni said the insistence on building in areas that
Israel will most likely not retain makes it more difficult to fight to retain
the settlement blocs as part of Israel.
“Those who are insistent on
building on every hill, and want to legalize every outpost, are damaging the
legitimacy of [the] Hebrew University,” she said.
“I am mad because in
practice you have had a situation where for dozens of years the minority has
imposed its position on the majority,” Livni said.
She acknowledged the
anomaly of sitting in the same government with someone she disagrees with so
acutely, but attributed that to the quirks of the political system.
Bennett and Livni are members of Netanyahu’s security cabinet.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid criticized Liberman for his idea of moving the
border and drawing inside a future Palestinian state a large number of Israeli
Arabs in Wadi Ara and the Little Triangle, a collection of Arab villages next to
the Green Line, telling Army Radio that the foreign minister’s proposal was
“I don’t think that the State of Israel will get rid of
Israeli citizens,” Lapid said. “One of the things that we expect from a
final-status agreement is that it would bring about a complete change in our
relations with the world, which have been in constant decline these last few
years. An agreement [that would entail population transfers] would mean giving
up an improvement in our relations, and I don’t want that.”