Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid at the Knesset plenum discussing goverment allowances for the handicap, September 18, 2017..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could have advanced the country’s interests during his meeting in Brussels with European foreign ministers on Monday but instead he chose to score internal political points, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni told The Jerusalem Post.
Livni said Netanyahu should have spoken in Europe not only about US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but also about Trump’s endorsement of the two-state solution in the same speech last Wednesday and Israel’s interest in negotiations on that basis.
“That was how I succeeded in persuading European foreign ministers to accept the interests of Israel when I was foreign minister,” Livni said. “Scolding the international community may help Netanyahu win votes here in Israel, but it won’t help Israel win any support overseas for its strategic interests.”
Netanyahu’s office has boasted that he is the first Israeli prime minister to brief all the European foreign ministers in Brussels since Shimon Peres in 1996. But Livni did so on a regular basis as foreign minister.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, by contrast, said it was the Europeans who missed an opportunity in their meeting with Netanyahu Monday and not the prime minister.
“My advice to the EU is that before complaining to us, they should fix their own unresolved problems like Brexit, Catalonia, the Balkans and the dispute over Cyprus,” Liberman told the Post at his Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting. “They have no shortage of problems of their own over there.”
Both Liberman and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid criticized Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for saying that Israel is a “terrorist state that murders children” in a speech on Sunday.
“Someone who denies the murder of hundreds of thousands of children in the Armenian Genocide, won’t lecture us,” Lapid told his faction in the Knesset. “Someone who cooperated with Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, in a war which has left half a million dead, won’t lecture us.”
Lapid said Israel needed to respond to Erdogan by immediately announcing that it officially recognizes the Armenian Genocide, which will bury the idea of a gas pipeline to Turkey, and upgrade its support for the creation of an independent Kurdish state. He said Yesh Atid would propose a bill written by former Knesset Member Arye Eldad (National Union) that calls for recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
“Our allies need to know that Israel stands with them and whoever attacks us needs to know that we have the tools to respond,” he said.
“The reconciliation agreement with the Turks after the Marmara incident was a diplomatic mistake that failed. We won’t be threatened, not by the Turks, not by the Palestinians, and not by the Arab world.
If anyone didn’t like President Trump’s announcement – that’s their problem.”
Liberman responded by inviting Lapid to join Yisrael Beytenu.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is in the security cabinet, praised the IDF for handling recent violence well at his Bayit Yehudi faction meeting, but Bennett said Hamas must be told not to test Israel’s patience, “because if they play with fire, they could get burned.”