Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday said she supported the Israeli Student Union’s plan to send a delegation of 200 students to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The purpose of the meeting, as the union’s directing committee has said, would be to “hold a direct conversation” with the PA chief. The proposal passed on Sunday night following a heated debate.
The decision to send the delegation to Ramallah has sparked controversy, with students accusing the Student Union of promoting a left-wing political agenda.
On Wednesday, 25 Student Union representatives from across the country sent an angry letter to the organization’s head in protest of the visit.
Livni, who spoke Thursday at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo, said she welcomed the idea.
"I heard that there was a heated discussion splitting the National Student Union around the delegation to meet with Abbas,” she said.
"I think it's great that you students are taking responsibility for your lives,” she added. “Go to the meeting. Argue. Ask tough questions. Get involved. Then decide for yourself whether or not there’s a peace partner. Decide for yourselves without the mediation of politicians.”
Livni also addressed the government's decision this week to sign an agreement that will allow Israel’s participation in the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program.
"This week we were a step away from cutting off Israel from the world,” charged Livni, who played a role in getting EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton to soften the European position over its guidelines boycotting entities operating beyond the Green Line.
“We nearly lost the right to participate in important European Union project. This week we almost cut thousands of Israeli researchers from their research in the world. This week we nearly abandoned what we are all so proud of - academia, research, high-tech entrepreneurship. And why? because Europe is not ready for its part to transfer the money to the settlements.”
She continued, "That is, because of the settlements we could have disengaged ourselves from Europe. But that did not happen. I'm glad I helped to prevent this disaster.”