By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni became the first Israeli politician to criticize Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's landmark speech to the United Nations, in an interview she gave to Channel 2 on Saturday afternoon.
Netanyahu made a mistake when he invoked the horrors of the Holocaust in his criticism of Holocaust-denying Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Livni said. The comparison could harm Israel's diplomatic efforts and make Israelis question their security, she said.
"We have to be careful not to encourage the world to think that Israel was established because of the Holocaust," Livni said. "When Obama said so in Egypt [at Cairo University in June], there was a justified uproar. It is wrong to compare any event in history to the Holocaust, because it minimizes the most horrible historic event that happened to the Jewish people. It also makes Israeli citizens feel less secure. The Jews of Israel in 2009 are not the Jews of Europe in 1939, and I've said this to Netanyahu."
Livni also attacked the prime minister on the diplomatic issue, saying that he is "neither ready nor interested in making the tough decisions."
"He is merely trying to survive, and this stalling might be good for Netanyahu, but it is not good for Israel," she said.
Asked why Kadima does not join the government to encourage Netanyahu to take diplomatic steps, she said that if the prime minister made dramatic moves, he would have Kadima's support.
"He knows that if he does the right things, Kadima will be there to support him, and "there" can either be in the government or in the opposition," Livni said. "I have no doubt that if I would join this government of nothingness, Israel would lose hope and the alternative that there can be something else."
Livni also criticized her party's former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, for the far-reaching offer he made to the Palestinians that he revealed an interview to the BBC last week. She said that she, unlike Olmert, would not allow the influx of more than a thousand Palestinian refugees to within Israel's final borders.
"I had differences of opinion with [Olmert] on how to manage the diplomatic process and on its content," she said. "For me, there is no right of return, not symbolic and not partial. I would not even accept the entrance to Israel of a single refugee, and the Palestinians and the Arab world know this."
Reacting to the UN Human Rights Commission's report on Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, she said she was prepared to stand trial at the International Court of Justice in the Hague to defend the actions of the IDF.
"There have already been petitions against me in various countries," Livni said "I was a partner to the decisions in the operation in Gaza.
They were right, I believe in the morality of the IDF soldiers, and if they try to indict me, I am prepared to come say such things if necessary."
Likud MKs slammed Livni for criticizing Netanyahu's General Assembly speech despite the rave reviews it received in Israel and around the world. Party officials criticized Livni for vacationing in Hawaii during the proceedings at the UN and over the Rosh Hashana holiday.
"Livni should have stayed abroad instead of harming the diplomatic efforts of the state," coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin said.
"It is very unfortunate that instead of supporting the prime minister in his struggle against Iran and international terror and welcoming his successful speech at the UN that was universally praised, the head of the opposition is allowing politics to interfere is issues that are part of the Israeli consensus."
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