Netanyahu Before Election: Livni Won't Lead Talks

Netanyahu will allow Livni to lead the peace negotiations, but just several months ago he said exactly the opposite.

Elad Benari ,

Tzipi Livni and Binyamin Netanyahu
Tzipi Livni and Binyamin Netanyahu
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will allow Hatnua chairwoman Tzipi Livni to lead the peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, as part of the coalition agreement between the two, but just several months ago Netanyahu made statements that said exactly the opposite.

During the election campaign, Netanyahu had reportedly made clear to several of his senior staff that no talks were taking place with Livni or other members of her party, and that the chances of her joining the next government with him as Prime Minister were nil.

“Livni managed the negotiations with the Palestinians poorly,” Netanyahu was quoted in December as having told ministers. “Her entire stance is wrong and unacceptable to me.”

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan later appeared to confirm the report, when he said during a television interview that in any case, even if Livni's party joins the coalition, she will not be involved in peace negotiations between Israel and the PA.

Erdan made it clear that he was speaking on behalf of Netanyahu, saying that Netanyahu had personally assured him that Livni "will not take part in any negotiations with the Palestinians."

Livni’s rushing to join Netanyahu’s coalition appears odd, since she claimed, when she formed her party, that she had returned to politics to replace Netanyahu. She has always tried to project the image of standing by her principles, one of which was not to do what she has just done.

She also criticized Netanyahu over everything during the campaign. In one instance, she slammed Netanyahu after he criticized PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for meeting Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal.

“Instead of reprimanding Abbas in order to convince the Israeli public prior to the elections that there is no hope for peace,” Livni said at the time, “Israel should demand and rightly so that any agreement between Abbas and Mashaal will recognize Israel and cease violence and terrorism.”

Her joining the coalition despite her statements is likely an indication that she learned her lesson from the last election.

In 2009, Livni as the head of Kadima achieved 28 seats, making her party the largest in the Knesset.

However, she failed to put together a majority coalition and then refused to join Netanyahu’s coalition. She served as head of the opposition, but her lack of ideas and one-item agenda of attacking Netanyahu on every issue did not improve her standing, and she lost the Kadima leadership election to Shaul Mofaz, who led the party into near oblivion, crashing to just two seats.