International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said on Saturday that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni “broke the rules” by meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, but that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had gone easy on her.
"It is generally accepted in democratic countries that the prime minister decides on policy, this was a clear breaking of the rules,” Steinitz told Channel 2 News.
"With all due respect, Livni was a party to the Cabinet decision to stop contacts with PA and cease negotiations. A Minister who then comes and says ‘I will do as I please’ basically declares himself to be an ideological offender,” he added.
Livni’s actions, said Steinitz, are hurting Israel's image in the world.
“We look very bad when it comes to governance. Netanyahu is being patient and even showing compassion toward Livni,” he said.
Steinitz declared that if Livni continues to meet with Abbas, “she will not be able to continue as a Minister.”
Livni’s meeting with Abbas was met with criticism from nationalists in the government, among them the Jewish Home party, which compared her to “a satellite that has lost all contact with the Earth.”
In an interview with Channel 2 on Friday, Livni defended her meeting with Abbas and said that Netanyahu knew about the meeting in advance.
She also dismissed reports that Netanyahu reprimanded her over the meeting and had even considered firing her, saying that her follow-up with Netanyahu after the meeting with Abbas was “a serious meeting with content, not a reprimand.”
"I believe in talking - I wanted to hear from [Abbas] about things that happened during the negotiations,” explained Livni. “I clarified my position regarding the agreement between him and Hamas, I heard from him how he views things and what he plans to do next."
“I will continue to work openly and according to my beliefs. I will continue to do openly what I think is good for Israel,” she declared.