Livni says PM should concede to Obama on freeze

Opposition leader breaks silence on issue; says if new building freeze is all US president requesting, Netanyahu should say "yes."

Livni close up 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Livni close up 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should give into US President Barack Obama’s request to renew the 10-month construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria, opposition leader Tzipi Livni said in an interview with Channel 2 on Saturday.
She accused Netanyahu of instigating a fight with the Obama administration, because he was afraid of fighting with hawkish ministers in his cabinet.
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“When [Netanyahu] mumbles, it weakens Israel,” Livni complained.
“After I see his unwillingness to make a decision just to keep his coalition intact when there is pressure on Israel, I call upon him to make a decision – fast.”
The opposition leader said she told Netanyahu he must make every effort to prevent a collapse of the direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
“For me, a moratorium has nothing to do with ideology,” Livni said. “What are a few buildings compared with the people’s desire for peace?” Livni responded to critics who said she should have attacked Netanyahu sooner on the issue. A lengthy cover story in Ma’ariv’s weekend magazine accused her of being an ineffective opposition leader who too often remains silent due to advice from her strategic advisers.
“When it looked like Netanyahu could negotiate without having to pay for it by extending the freeze, I waited silently and behaved responsibly,” she said. “I didn’t want to weaken him on this issue.
“Now the time has come to criticize.”
Livni said she understood that her constituents wanted her to be more outspoken, but that she had decided to support efforts by the government to initiate negotiations with the Palestinians, because the talks are in Israel’s interests.
“I lead the opposition to the Netanyahu government, not to Israel,” she said.
The Likud responded to Livni’s criticism by saying that Netanyahu had stood up for Israel’s security needs while Livni harmed Israel’s security by negotiating UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that enabled Hizbullah to rearm following the Second Lebanon War.
“Livni is the last person who could scold us on the diplomatic issue after she failed to reach an agreement with the Palestinians despite conceding to them on everything,” Likud MK Ophir Akunis said.
Addressing the possibility that former IDF chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz would join Kadima, Livni praised him but said he had not decided yet.
“We need worthy people in politics, and he is worthy in my eyes,” she said.