Livni close up 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
If Tzipi Livni and her Kadima party perform well enough in the next elections to be asked to form a government, she would ask the Likud to be her coalition partner, Livni has told The Jerusalem Post.
“Certainly if I am given the mandate to form a government, I would invite the Likud to be my partner,” the opposition leader said in an extensive interview, “but on a path that I would set out – both as regards an accord with the Palestinians and as regards national content.
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Today’s Likud understands the political price it is paying for the historic partnership with the haredim.”
Livni detailed her intermittent contacts with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu since the February 2009 elections over terms for a Likud-Kadima partnership, which she argued would best serve the national interest.
Apart from finding common ground for progress with the Palestinians,
Livni said a partnership between their two “national, liberal parties”
could also have “written the first chapter in the constitution of
Israel. We could have introduced national content, core curricula for
all, an equalizing of the [military and social] burden, all of those
“From the time this government was established, on almost a daily
basis,” she said, “I asked myself, is there no substantive process [with
the Palestinians] because the prime minister doesn’t want to pay the
price involved in an agreement or because he can’t move ahead for
political reasons?” Over time, she came to believe that although
Netanyahu had publicly endorsed a two-state solution, he had done so
“without real intent, without the drive, without the [sense of
imperative] that we have to reach an agreement and to pay those prices,
because otherwise the option for the Jewish state will be worse.
Rather,” in her assessment, “he saw and analyzed the processes, the
American pressure for negotiations, the need to start speaking in those
As recently as late spring, she said, “I initiated another discussion
with him on the issue... I said to him, in order to stop the
international trend against Israel, you have to decide for yourself
first if you’re prepared to pay the price of an accord. If not, there’s
no point in continuing this discussion. If yes, there has to be an
accompanying political drama, whereby you exchange your coalition for a
coalition in which there is a majority for an agreement...
“I don’t want to go into too many details, but I initiated [these
conversations] on more than one occasion – every time I thought there
was a chance, maybe, but that he felt himself constrained politically.
He didn’t want it.”
An agreement with the Palestinians will always “constitute a position that is not the classical right-wing position,” she said.
“I see his lack of willingness to advance, and I understand where he stands.”
She said Netanyahu could and should have approved an extension of the
settlement freeze, that his coalition would not have been affected, and
that it had been a bad mistake to rebuff a US presidential request to
Livni reiterated her conviction that it was possible to reach an accord
with the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas. In the nine months
of talks she oversaw with former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei, she
said, “we managed...to understand the mutual sensitivities, what needed
to be overcome, and to reach a mutual conclusion that an accord was
possible... We did not exhaust that process.”
Livni acknowledged that “There are all the reasons in the world to give
up, to despair – when you see their textbooks, when you hear some of the
things they say, when you read some of the articles. And by the way,
they could say the same about us.
“I simply think that given the choice of options, giving up now on the
effort to reach an accord would be bad for the Jewish state, physically
and in every other way. In my opinion, only an Israeli leadership that
fully appreciates this will reach an agreement. Whoever doesn’t fully
internalize the threat that is being posed to the existence of the State
of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people in the absence of
an accord, will find all the reasons [not to reach one]. And whoever
believes that the option of two national states represents the Israeli
interest, will find the ways to overcome the problems.”
She added that Abbas’s failure to respond positively to then-prime
minister Ehud Olmert’s 2008 peace offer should not be seen as any kind
of barometer of Abbas’s intentions.
“Absolutely not,” she said. “And I think Olmert feels the same.”