'PM breaking law by not meeting opposition'

Netanyahu doesn't meet with leader of the opposition as frequently as Knesset Law dictates, says Livni.

By
March 5, 2012 12:10
3 minute read.
Tzippi Livni

Tzippi Livni 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not meet with her as frequently as he should, opposition leader Tzipi Livni said on Sunday.

She said she couldn’t remember when they last sat down to discuss matters of national importance.

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According to an amendment to the Knesset Law passed in July 2000, the prime minister is supposed to update the leader of the opposition at least once a month. According to Livni, the prime minister has not acted in accordance with the law.

She was speaking on Sunday evening at the fifth annual Herzliya Conference for Influential Women that was discussing the “new Middle East” and its effect on the State of Israel.

Livni did not make a speech but held a Q&A session with moderator Dana Weiss, a usually hard hitting television interviewer who took a less aggressive tone with Livni.

The event, in line with International Women’s Day, which this year coincides with Purim, was part of a month-long series of events for women organized by the Women’s Administration of the Herzliya Municipality, which is one of the few municipalities in the country headed by a woman.

Running on a Meretz ticket, Yael German was elected mayor in 1998, and is the first female to hold this position in Herzliya.

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She was also the first mayor of any municipality to set up a division dealing with women’s issues and providing cultural activities for women of all ages.

Livni declined to answer a question as to whether Kadima under her leadership would be a loyal opposition in the event that Netanyahu would decide to launch a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. All that she was prepared to say was that Kadima would act in Israel’s best interests. Nor would she would comment on Kadima’s views on a military option, saying that the subject was too sensitive to be aired in public, and that if she had anything to say, she would say it to the prime minister.

There was one male speaker at the conference – British Ambassador Matthew Gould. He spoke first about events in the region, with particular emphasis on Iran, and then about the place of women in society.

Reviewing the after effects of the Arab Spring, Gould was cautiously optimistic, and said that although transition would be uneasy, it might just be possible for democracy and the will of the people to be effective and allow for Israel to live on better terms with its neighbors.

The Iranian nuclear program threatens not only to Israel but also to the UK, and Britain attaches “the highest importance to dealing with that threat,” he said. Gould was adamant that Israel is not facing this threat alone.

“Iran cannot be allowed to get nuclear weapons,” he declared, as he advocated for economic pressure against Iran to be intensified.

No financial institution in the UK is allowed to have dealings with Iran, he said, adding that the European Union has adopted oil sanctions that are having a serious impact on Iran’s economy, “which is really suffering.”

There was too much talk about the military option, said Gould. “We’re not taking that option off the table, but now is the time to stick with economic sanctions,” he said.

Leaving no doubts about his belief in equal opportunities and equal pay for women, Gould commended Israel for what it has achieved towards these goals, but noted that with all the progress that has been made, women are still earning only 83 percent of what men earn for doing the same job.

Pointing to inequities in his own country, Gould said that both in the British diplomatic service as well as in the corporate board room, “we are a long way from 50% being women.” He added that until 1971, women who got married while in the diplomatic service had to resign.

Gould reflected on how much poorer Israel would have been if women such as Rivka Carmi (the president of Ben-Gurion University and a world-renowned geneticist), Livni and Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate Ada Yonath had not been able to realize their potential.

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