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      Schneller Challenges Livni for Lauding Obama Speech

      Kadima MK Otniel Schneller challenged opposition leader Tzipi Livni for lauding Obama's mideast policy speech; says its time to be mature, back PM.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 5/20/2011, 12:05 AM / Last Update: 5/20/2011, 1:18 AM

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      Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima), maintaining the policy of opposition for its own sake she adopted after being passed over to form a government for Netanyahu, lauded Obama's call for a "full and phased withdrawal" to "1967 borders."

      Saying Obama's plan was "clearly in Israel's interests," while at the same time blaming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' abject refusal to negotiate even when Israel makes dangerous concessions, Livni departed even from her own party's established criteria for peace in favor of Obama's.

      This, despite Netanyahu formulating his five principles for a peace accord between Israel and the PA before Obama's speech, in such a way as to form a "broad consensus" - and be palatable to the Kadima rank and file.

      "On his visit," Livni admonished the Prime Minister, "Netanyahu must display the leadership necessary now to create the conditions necessary to restart negotiations with those who are ready to end the conflict."

      "Only a real Israeli initiative with content that can receive American and international support can be an answer to the current dangers and opportunities," Livni added.

      Her Kadima counterpart MK Otniel Schneller, however, turned the spotlight onto Livni. He called on the "opposition's leadership" – Livni herself – to display maturity and act responsibly by making a strong stand and backing Netanyahu on issues of foreign policy in light of Obama's speech.

      “Obama’s speech has placed before Israeli society and its representatives the challenge of unity and national agreement. The political disagreements and aspiration of the opposition parties should not overpower their responsibility for the future of the state,” Schneller asserted.

      “On the level of diplomatic policy, even Kadima believes in the same principles presented by the prime minister, which constitute the basis for a diplomatic program that the previous government under [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni tried to advance,” he added.

      “It would be appropriate if during the prime minister’s meeting with President Obama, everyone knew that the prime minister has no opposition when it comes to realizing his diplomatic initiative. We should expect mature leadership from the heads of all of the Zionist parties on the existential questions facing Israel and its strategic interests," Schneller said.