Livni blasts government but keeps window open for return

Kadima leader calls to extend settlement freeze, says she would join ‘completely different’ partnership with Likud.

Livni 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Livni 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Friday, accusing him of poor leadership, but still leaving the door open for her Kadima party to slide into a reshuffled coalition.
Although Netanyahu’s office issued a forceful denial late Thursday of reports that Kadima could join the government, a hint made during last week’s Likud faction meeting renewed rumors of negotiations between Israel’s two largest parties that have yet to be quieted.
Speaking at the annual Farmer’s Association Conference on Friday, Livni complained that “there is no leadership today in Israel. There is no leadership that speaks of values and looks at things from a moral place. The government of Israel is busy with trying to get along with everyone and to avoid making decisions. It is the winkand- nod system and it cannot continue. It is impossible to keep all of the balls in the air all the time as the prime minister does. In such a situation, ultimately, a ball – and not necessarily the right one – will fall on all of our heads.”
Livni warned that “if the State of Israel will not take her fate into her own hands, others will decide for us,” adding that “the central interest of Israel is to reach an agreement in order to maintain Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.
“The time that is passing harms Israel’s interests,” she said. “Every plan that we do not initiate will be worse for Israel than any plan that we could initiate. Anyone who doesn’t decide, and hopes that something will work out in the future, will bring about a state in which others will decide for us, and we will find ourselves in a situation that will not allow us to advance the Zionist vision.”
The Kadima chairwoman also slammed Netanyahu’s unwillingness to comply with the American request that Israel impose an additional two-month building freeze in Jewish communities in the West Bank, accusing Netanyahu of choosing coalition politics over “the strategic relationship with the United States.”
Livni did not restrict her criticism of what she characterized as Netanyahu’s hesitance to make decisions on diplomatic issues. Israelis, she said, should be “worried” by the fact that “there is a group here whose children serve in the army, pay taxes and work, and it is growing smaller...
The state is turning into a collection of groups that have practically no connection among them. It is not clear to any of the groups what the elements are of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and the time has come to define them.”
She also issued a condemnation of the recent incident in which 89-year-old Safed resident Eli Tzvielli received threats on his life for agreeing to rent an apartment to Arab students.
Livni emphasized that she believed that the alternative to the current situation was “to establish a completely different government, a government of Likud and Kadima, a government that internally and externally does the right thing, without a monopoly that allows the haredi parties to impose their agenda on everything Jewish in Israel, a government that will continue the negotiations,” which she said she had proposed in the past to Netanyahu.
Netanyahu, she said, had “chosen otherwise,” but she did not rule out the possibility that his choice could be reconsidered.
Livni’s reference to a national unity government came after a week of rumors, stemming from a Monday Likud faction meeting during which Netanyahu hinted that there could be changes soon in the leadership of key Knesset committees.
Netanyahu may have been referring to the upcoming court decision regarding Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima). This week, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court is expected to determine if Hanegbi acted with criminal intent in issuing false testimony about a 2002 campaign flyer – if so, it would signal the end of Hanegbi’s Knesset term. Hanegbi is widely believed to be the go-to man for negotiations between Kadima and Likud.
In the mean time, Netanyahu’s office published a laconic denial Thursday evening that any representatives of the government, either official or otherwise, were currently engaging in negotiations with the lead opposition party.