Livni: Freeze harms Israeli interests

Livni Freeze harms Isra

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday of endangering Israel's interests by grouping settlement blocs together with outposts in his 10-month building moratorium. "When I hear the prime minister saying he told settlers that we will endure this freeze together, and that it is temporary, and everything will come back and blossom, the significance is that nothing has been set in stone," said Livni during the weekly Kadima faction meeting. "Unfortunately, when this government puts Gush Etzion and Migron in the same grouping, the significance is damage to Israel's interest in maintaining the settlement blocs," she added. "If the prime minister is saying about the outposts that we will go through this together, then there are three options, none of which are good: the government has not yet made a decision about the need to reach an agreement; the government is fooling itself; or it is lying to the public," Livni said hours after Netanyahu belittled the previous administration's policies. "I was happy to hear that opposition MKs have become defenders of the settlement blocs," said Netanyahu during a morning briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "This is good. I invite all of the opposition MKs to come to the settlement blocs on Tu Bishvat to plant trees. I didn't receive this support when there was a fight over the understandings reached with the Bush administration." The premier blasted the Kadima government's diplomatic achievements, noting that "withdrawing from Gaza did not bring about security. All the understandings that were reached with the Bush administration [in return for the withdrawal] have not been honored." Shortly after Livni's comments, the Prime Minister's Office released a statement responding to the criticism, in which it stressed that "we desire a real peace agreement - one that will enable independent Palestinian existence while recognizing the Jewish national state and effectively maintaining Israel's security." The message read,"I was happy when I heard the opposition's support for the settlement blocs. That is excellent, because that means that there is no argument on that point," going on to reiterate Netanyahu's invitation to Livni to join him in planting trees. But Kadima officials were unwilling to allow the Prime Minister's Office to have the last word. "The first prime minister to place a question mark over the settlement blocs should be the last to talk of generating a consensus," responded one Kadima official. "Kadima proved through its actions that one can run real negotiations for peace to maintain Israel's security interests and to ensure international support for settlement blocs in any future permanent status agreement. "It would be good if Netanyahu could find a way to take Israel out of the diplomatic isolation in which he has placed it, rather than continuing to issue messages defending himself from criticism that he justly earned through impractical management."