Livni rejects Barak’s call for nat'l unity government

Mofaz says the prime minister’s rejection of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation accord was "too fast, too panicky and too irresponsible"

livni at rabbinical assembly 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
livni at rabbinical assembly 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni turned down Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s call on Thursday to respond to the Fatah-Hamas coalition being formed by the Palestinians with a national-unity government in Israel.
In an interview on Thursday with Israel Radio, Barak said that “if a technocratic government is established in the Palestinian Authority, we should consider cooperating here too.”
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But Livni said there would be no unity government in Israel unless Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies changed dramatically.
“Unity is not about being against something or someone, it means being for something,” she told the Foreign Press Association.
“The fact that the Palestinians are unifying does not mean we should form a government just for the sake of having a unity government. My decisions about whether to enter a unity government is always determined by policies and whether the government will pursue peace, and nothing has changed in Israel.”
Livni denounced Hamas and expressed hope that the Palestinian unity government would agree to return to negotiations.
“Hamas is a terrorist organization that represents an extremist ideology that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist or previous agreements with Israel,” she said. “Any Palestinian government will have to accept these conditions of the Quartet and work for peace with Israel. This is the time for Israel and the PA to make decisions; it will be a test.”
Livni’s Kadima rival, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz, said Israel needed to talk to any Palestinian government that would accept the conditions of the Quartet, even if it included Hamas. He called Netanyahu’s immediate rejection of Palestinian unity “too fast, too panicky and too irresponsible.”
Mofaz said Israel would need to continue targeting Hamas leaders if rocket attacks continued from the Gaza Strip but that PA President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah would also bear responsibility for rocket attacks from Gaza.
Kadima MK Nachman Shai described the Hamas-Fatah agreement as the prime minister’s “great failure.”
“Netanyahu failed to understand the strategic changes in the Arab world and their implications for the Palestinians. The unity between Hamas and Fatah produces a new political and security reality that surprises Israel and forces it to present a new political program that is not under the control of the prime minister. The result is that the road to international recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state is open,” Shai said in a statement.
MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) complained that Netanyahu “turns every opportunity into a threat.”
Gal-On said that the alliance between Fatah and Hamas had provided Netanyahu with “a new excuse” not to meet with the PA leadership.
“Instead of taking advantage of the growing closeness between Fatah and Hamas as an opportunity to hold negotiations toward two states for two peoples, and not three states for two peoples, instead of saying ‘yes’ to the initiative for UN recognition [of a Palestinian state], Netanyahu continues with diplomatic refusals that will isolate Israel internationally,” Gal-On warned.
Meanwhile, right-wing legislators and ministers alike pushed for a practical Israeli response that would penalize the PA for its alliance with an organization that refuses to recognize Israel.
Because “the Palestinian Authority chose a strategy of terrorism and unilateralism, Israel, too, must present an initiative: to assert Israeli authority throughout the entire Land of Israel and put an end to the idea of a Palestinian state,” Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said.
MK Miri Regev (Likud) called for an urgent meeting of the joint Knesset committee for the security budget, in order to end the transfer of billions of shekels of tax revenues from Israel to the PA.
Regev said that had Israel remitted approximately NIS 5 billion over the past year, and that “it is not right for Israel to transfer funds every month to the authority, which deals in terrorism and incitement against Israel and against innocent civilians.”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.