Livni gives PM her backing for peace talks

Likud ministers warn Netanyahu against extending moratorium in settlements

Tzipi Livni 311 Ariel J (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Tzipi Livni 311 Ariel J
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni issued a rare statement of support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies on Tuesday when she endorsed his efforts to restart direct diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians, at a conference at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center organized by her Kadima Party.
Livni said Kadima would support Netanyahu from the opposition during the diplomatic process, in which he is expected to face challenges from rightwing parties in his coalition and hawks inside his Likud party.
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“The direct talks are especially important, and I hope that the prime minister enters them with the understanding that he is not doing this as a favor to the Palestinians or the Americans, but because it is in the interest of Israel,” Livni said.
“The success of the prime minister is the success of all of us, and if he succeeds, we certainly won’t attack him for going in the right direction.”
The Kadima conference was attended by former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz, who has said he would enter politics, but has not confirmed that it would be with Kadima. Halutz also attended a speech by former Kadima prime minister Ehud Olmert at Tel Aviv University several months ago.
Ironically, Netanyahu’s own public diplomacy minister, Yuli Edelstein, spoke against the prime minister’s diplomatic policies on the same panel in which Livni endorsed the talks with the Palestinians. He warned Netanyahu to learn the mistakes of the unilateral withdrawals from the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon.
“It is wrong to sell policies for temporary legitimacy,” Edelstein said. “It is a mistake to think that for the world to love us, we must embark on policies of concessions and withdrawals.
The legitimacy we would receive would last a few days while we would have pay a price of increased hostility and face requests for further concessions.”
Netanyahu also received a warning from Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, who toured Efrat in Gush Etzion on Tuesday. As expected, she spoke against continuing the 10-month settlement freeze beyond the September 26 date when it is set to end.
Likud ministers are expected to attend a rally against the freeze in Ariel on September 1, the night of Netanyahu’s meeting in Washington with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, US President Barack Obama, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and King Abdullah of Jordan. The rally is being organized by hawkish Likud MK Danny Danon.
Another Likud rally in the Samarian settlement Revava is being planned for September 26 to push for the resumption of construction throughout Judea and Samaria.
“Ministers and MKs will attend the events, which will remind the prime minister about the policies of the Likud,” Danon said.