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Bennett: Livni Has Given Up on Ariel; Livni: Not True

Bayit Yehudi chairman attacks the coalition agreement between the Likud and Hatnua, reminding that Livni was ready to split Jerusalem.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/21/2013, 3:13 AM

Bennett speaks during Bayit Yehudi conference
Bennett speaks during Bayit Yehudi conference
Flash 90

Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett attacked on Wednesday the coalition agreement between the Likud and Hatnua, reminding that Hatnua chairwoman Tzipi Livni was ready to split Jerusalem as part of a final peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

Speaking at his party’s conference, Bennett said, “Are we going to strengthen the land of Israel and Jerusalem our capital, or will we place the negotiations in the hands of she who has already offered to split Jerusalem and has given up on the city of Ariel?"

He added, “The make-up of the coalition will decide whether this is a government of opportunities with new forces or a failed government. If the new government intends to attack Israel’s real problems, we will be in as a loyal and devoted partner, but if the intention is to buy more time - we’ll be out, and that’s not a disaster.”

Hatnua rejected Bennett’s remarks later on Wednesday, saying, “Livni never gave up on Ariel and never negotiated about Jerusalem, but carefully maintained Israel's national interests. In politics, telling the truth is also an option.”

According to the coalition agreement signed between Livni and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Livni will be appointed Justice Minister and will also be in charge of handling the negotiations with the PA.

When she conducted negotiations under former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert it was reported that the two had agreed to give up part of Jerusalem to the PA. Livni rejected the allegations at the time, but former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has revealed in her memoir that Olmert offered Abbas 94% of Judea and Samaria, as well as shared control over Jerusalem. Abbas rejected the offer.

Officials in the Bayit Yehudi said Tuesday night that Livni’s joining Netanyahu’s coalition will make it difficult for the Bayit Yehudi to join it.

At the same time, Bayit Yehudi MK Uri Ariel said on Wednesday that the party is moving forward in its coalition talks with Likud Beytenu.

He admitted however, that Likud’s deal with Livni “is cause for concern.”

The talks between the two parties appeared to have hit a snag this week, particularly because of a pact between the Bayit Yehudi and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.

The two parties have reportedly agreed to enter the coalition together or not at all, in an apparent attempt by both parties to guarantee a coalition ally with similar goals.

Lapid insists on implementing a program that would see yeshiva students being drafted into the army and has imposed almost impossible preconditions on entering the government, making it hard to include Bayit Yehudi as well. Lapid is reportedly steadfast in his position against joining a coalition that includes Shas and United Torah Judaism, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi hareidi parties.

Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett has also expressed strong support for a reform in hareidi enlistment, but unlike Lapid, he is willing to negotiate the matter with the hareidi leadership.