Livni: Netanyahu to blame for Hamas-Fatah unity deal

In Army Radio interview, opposition leader says diplomatic stagnation brought about by government's policies led PA to reconcile with Hamas.

Livni 311 reuters (photo credit: Reuters)
Livni 311 reuters
(photo credit: Reuters)
The reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas came as a direct result of the policies of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that have led to stagnation in the diplomatic process, opposition leader Tzipi Livni said on Sunday in an interview with Army Radio.
“The Palestinians made their decision because they looked at Israel and saw the unwillingness to cooperate for the sake of peace,” she said.
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Livni took credit for the decision by the Quartet, after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election in January 2006, to demand that Hamas, if it wants international recognition, renounce violence, recognize Israel, and accept agreements signed with Israel by the PLO.
“After the elections in the Palestinian Authority, we were faced with a similar situation, and we behaved completely differently,” Livni said. “We contacted all the countries and recruited them to our side.
“We said we were interested in peace, but only with a party who actually wants peace – not Hamas. We left Israel in a state of active negotiations with the PA, international recognition of our readiness for peace, and full cooperation with Egypt.”
Livni said that rather than “spew slogans,” Netanyahu should be taking action to minimize the damage from the Fatah-Hamas deal and take advantage of what she said was an opportunity. She reiterated that she was not interested in joining the government, and called for elections as soon as possible.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) responded to Livni’s comments by accusing her of creating the current problems with the Palestinians during her tenure as foreign minister from 2006 to 2009.
“The Kadima government made two critical mistakes – letting Hamas take part in elections, which gave them international legitimacy, and signing the agreement by which Israel withdrew from the Philadelphi Corridor [between Gaza and Sinai], creating an obstacle to relations with Egypt that is now hurting diplomacy between the countries,” Steinitz said.
He denied Livni’s claims that Netanyahu’s government had allowed the diplomatic process to stagnate, listing a number of gestures made toward the Palestinians including the now expired 10-month West Bank building freeze, economic cooperation, and the prime minister’s Bar-Ilan University speech calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state.
The finance minister added that there was a chance the government could engage in talks with Hamas.
“When the organization stops acting as it does, we will be prepared to speak with them,” Steinitz said. “If [Hamas] recognizes Israel and agrees to lay down its weapons and becomes part of the Palestinian Authority, then the situation will be different.”
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) slammed Steinitz on Sunday for his decision to withhold tax revenues from the PA as a result of the Fatah- Hamas unity deal.
Tibi called the move “criminal activity and robbery of Palestinian public funds that will prevent payment of wages to Palestinian Authority employees.”