Kadima attacks PM for harming ties with US

Likud MK Levin calls on Livni to stand behind the prime minister; Kadima leader says Netanyahu cares only about politics.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
May 22, 2011 02:36
2 minute read.
Livni

Livni 311 reuters. (photo credit: reuters)

 
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Kadima continued to attack Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy statements over the weekend, as Likud MK Yariv Levin issued a call Saturday night for his Kadima counterparts to press Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni to stand behind the prime minister.

Speaking hours before Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama’s joint press conference Friday evening, Livni said that “Netanyahu spoke in the Knesset about a consensus – but if there is any consensus in Israel, it is an understanding that relations with the United States are vital to Israel. A prime minister who harms those relations without a significant and critical need to do so harms Israel’s security and its deterrent power.”

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“A prime minister who relates to the American administration – any American administration – as an enemy could also turn it into one,” Livni continued during a speech made at a contractors’ convention in Eilat.

“When we stand before a United Nations decision that will support a Palestinian state in the ’67 borders without taking into consideration Israel’s interests, the only way to stop it is through America convincing states that intend to support the decision to pursue instead the opening of negotiations.”

Kadima MKs only stepped up their rhetoric following the Friday press conference, which many saw as highlighting – and even increasing – tensions between the two leaders.

“Bibi is intentionally creating a rift between Israel and the United States, and specifically between him and the president. There is no doubt that in his performance during the joint press conference, he embarrassed the president of the United States – it cannot be by chance that he would choose such a non-diplomatic approach,” complained Nachman Shai.

Shai questioned Netanyahu’s intents, starting with the prime minister’s decision to criticize Obama’s Thursday speech on Middle East policy hours before the two met in Washington.



“We cannot afford, particularly in advance of September, to butt heads with America.

It would isolate Israel to an unprecedented level,” said Shai, adding that he hopes that Netanyahu reassesses his approach before his scheduled addresses to AIPAC and to both houses of Congress this coming week.

“When Netanyahu looks at Obama, he sees Lieberman – what bothers him is the Israeli public opinion. He proved Kissinger’s adage that Israel has no foreign policy, just domestic politics,” concluded Shai.

But on the other side of the political spectrum, it was Likud MK Yariv Levin who accused Kadima of dealing in petty politics in the opposition party’s reluctance to vocally support Netanyahu in Washington. Levin wrote a missive to Kadima MKs in which he asked them to push Livni to stand behind Netanyahu’s policy.

“It is unfortunate that the chairwoman of your party and of the opposition refrained from supporting the prime minister, and to ignore the massive damage that her position is causing to Israeli public diplomacy,” wrote Levin.

“Such behavior by an opposition leader is serious and unprecedented, and causes serious harm to our resilience as a society and all of our ability to defend Israel’s most vital interests upon which we all agree.”

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