Palestinian Authority officials have welcomed the news that MK Tzipi Livni, formerly the Foreign Minister, will head Israel-PA negotiations under her party’s coalition deal with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“Livni’s publicly stated positions are positive,” said Nimer Hammad, a top advisor to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. “She has experience with the demands of the peace process and with the Palestinian side’s view of the solution.”
Livni was heavily involved in negotiations with the PA under the administration of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He and Livni reportedly offered the PA over 90% of land in Judea and Samaria for the creation of a new Arab state, and suggested splitting the city of Jerusalem to give the PA a capital in the eastern part of the city.
Both Netanyahu and Livni have been taking heat from Israelis for their coalition agreement. Livni had previously declared that Netanyahu would be a diplomatic disaster for Israel, while Netanyahu said before the elections that Livni failed as a negotiator and should not have a major role in talks with the PA.
The two tried to staunch the flow of criticism in their Tuesday night news conference by acknowledging their previous statements. Israel’s current security needs required them to overcome their differences for the common good, they argued.
Livni’s former party, Kadima, is expected to join the coalition soon as well. Kadima has just two seats in the current Knesset, down from 28 in the previous Knesset. Party head Shaul Mofaz is rumored to have been offered either the Ministry of Strategic Affairs or the Environmental Protection Ministry.