Daily newspaper Maariv reported Tuesday that there are differences of opinion and approach between the two heads of Israel's negotiating team in talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA) - Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, who represents Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
While Livni wants large negotiation teams and a signing of a permanent status deal at the end of the nine months allotted to the “peace process” negotiations, Molcho is opposed to this approach and at this point is interested only in reaching an agreement on principles regarding the core issues.
However, the differences between the two run even deeper, according to Maariv's Eli Berdenstein.
“According to information that has been brought to the attention of the prime minister,” he writes, “while it is true that in the formal meetings with the Palestinians that Livni conducts alongside Molcho she is careful to stick to the official line set by Netanyahu, outside of these meetings, in the conversations Livni holds with American elements or in side conversations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu and Molcho have been hearing that she has been departing from the official line and making statements from which it appears that Israel is ready to give up on its principles even at this stage.”
According to these reports, Livni has said in various conversations that Israel is willing to compromise in Jerusalem, to withdraw from Judea and Samaria and to uproot communities. Netanyahu thinks that Israel should not give up its best cards in the early stages of negotiations, when it is not clear what the PA is willing to cede in terms of security arrangments.
“In Netanyahu's vicinity,” the reporter explains, “there is a feeling that the Americans, whom Israel is making every effort not to bring into the negotiations room, are eagerly using Livni's statements in their conversations with the Palestinians and thus weakening Israel's position in the talks."
Livni's bureau told Maariv: “There are close and good working relations between Minister Livni and Attorney Molcho. In addition, as we have said in the past, we do not and will not give any kind of comment on the content of the negotiations, and this should not be seen as a denial or a confirmation of the claims.”