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      Expulsion-Backer Livni: Bibi Strengthens Hamas

      Tzipi Livni, who backed the expulsion of Jews from Gaza in 2005, now blames Netanyahu for negotiating with Hamas.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 12/9/2012, 1:15 PM

      Livni and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon towards Cast Lead ceasefire
      Livni and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon towards Cast Lead ceasefire
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      Tzipi Livni, who backed the expulsion of Jews from Gaza in 2005, now blames Netanyahu for negotiating with Hamas.

      Livni quit as head of the Kadima party last year and has re-entered politics with a party bearing her own name, continuing her previous policy as opposition leader by blaming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for everything.

      The expulsion of Jews and the withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza, similar to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s sudden pull-out of the IDF from southern Lebanon in 2000, left a vacuum that the terrorist organization rapidly filled.

      It ousted the rival Fatah faction from Gaza in a bloody militia war in 2007, leaving Hamas in complete power.

      Thousands of missiles and rockets later, Israel launched the Pillar of Defense counterterrorist operation last month, ending up with another ceasefire, which so far has been upheld. The agreement between Israel and Hamas was mediated by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood  government, and left Hamas in a stronger political position by virtue of it gaining unofficial diplomatic recognition.

      Following Hamas’s supreme leader Khaled Mashaal's landmark weekend visit to Gaza, in which he said Hamas would not cede "an inch" of “historic Palestine,” Livni commented, "On Saturday, [Hamas] celebrated the defeat of the Israeli government. Every day that passes under this government, Hamas is strengthened and Israel is weakened," she said in a statement.

      "This government negotiated with Hamas. What's worse, they allowed them to gain international legitimacy," she added.

      When Livni was Foreign Minister in the Olmert government during the Operation Cast Lead four years ago, which also was launched to end missile attacks, she agreed to an American-sponsored ceasefire that was quickly broken.

      While attempting to pin the blame on Netanyahu less than two months before the January 22 Knesset elections, Livni was up-staged by Shaul Mofaz, her successor as leader of the Kadima party.

      After months of criticizing Prime Minister Netanyahu of being too hawkish by not agreeing to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s terms for negotiations, he said on Saturday that the Israeli government should have killed Mashaal when he visited Gaza.

      After the ceasefire ending Pillar of Defense, he criticized Netanyahu for “negotiating” with Hamas.

      Mofaz and Livni’s support for the expulsions in 2005 was not forgotten Sunday by Likud education Minister Gideon Sa'ar. "All those parties that promise new withdrawals from Judaea and Samaria want to elevate Hamas to power," he charged.

      "Only a strong government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu can face Iran and its emissary Hamas," he told Army Radio.

      Naftali Bennett, who heads the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, told Israeli radio Sunday, "I don't understand why we allowed him [Mashaal] to enter Gaza and why, once he was there, we didn't liquidate him, because he deserves to die.

      "We should have taken advantage of the opportunity to slice the head off the serpent."