Is Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on her way out of the Netanyahu government?
The question seems more pertinent now than ever before after Channel 10 news on Tuesday quoted Livni in remarks she made two weeks ago to a group of former Sayeret Matkal officers implicitly criticizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for using the Holocaust to evade “tough decisions.”
The remarks were first reported by journalist Tair Shechner Rochman in the Hebrew-language Internet news site Hamakom ha’achi cham b’gehonom (“the hottest place in hell”).
“From a bird’s eye view, we are indeed a small country that is surrounded by enemies, but this is an observation that serves the politicians since they are dependent on them and thus they view themselves as exempt from taking hard decisions,” Livni is quoted as saying.
“Recently, I’ve been hearing the word ‘Holocaust’ quite a bit,” the justice minister said. “This word also serves politicians who have built their careers on threats. It serves their desire to run away when the time comes to make decisions.”
“We are wont to ask ourselves if we have a partner for peace,” Livni said. “But are we ready for tough decisions?”
The relationship between Livni and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has deteriorated in the wake of the collapse of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority last month.
Last week, Ma’ariv reported that Netanyahu threatened to fire Livni, the government’s chief peace negotiator, after she met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in London last week behind Netanayhu's back.
According to the report, Netanyahu swore to fire Livni for her insubordination, but Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid warned the prime minister that sacking Livni would be a major political mistake that would bring about the dissolution of the government, and prompted Netanyahu to reconsider.
Netanyahu was not involved in the planning of the meeting, but found out through independent channels only after it was arranged, Ma'ariv reported.
The prime minister had been on a flight back to Israel from his official visit to Japan, and found out about the get-together after he landed.
Witnesses were quoted by Ma'ariv as saying that they "had never seen Bibi so furious."
When Netanyahu demanded an explanation from Livni, she allegedly said that she meant to notify him ahead of time, but because of the time difference between London and Japan, she didn't get the chance.