Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Monday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being responsible for the uproar created by the United Nations report into the Israeli operation in Gaza. She hinted that Israel was the one who revealed that the Palestinians had deferred a Human Rights Council vote on the report, because the prime minister "had to boast of his performance."
Livni, who spoke during the opening ceremony of the Knesset's winter session, was interrupted several times by Likud Knesset members.
"Israel's prime minister is worthy of congratulations," the Kadima chairwoman said at the start of her speech. "Nine months have passed since the government was established, and it has indeed met its main objective – you have managed to survive. This is the Israeli government's main accomplishment.
"The second accomplishment, and unfortunately this is how you see it, Mr. Prime Minister, is that you have managed as prime minister to do nothing," she added. "A government needs a vision, and your vision for the people of Israel is that we should not be 'frierim' (suckers). This is real Zionism."
'As long as we are not suckers.' Livni at Knesset (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Livni went on to criticize the prime minister in terms of the negotiations with the Palestinians. "You have caused Israel to be in the corner and lost more and more strongholds of support and understanding every day, but who's counting?
"You have managed to beat the president of the United States, Israel's greatest friend, or at least this is the impression you and your people tried to convey after the meeting. You have managed to humiliate the only partner for a peace settlement Israel has.
"In short: We have beaten America, humiliated the Palestinians, isolated ourselves. Raise your head from the small politics and see what has happened, see that Israel is excommunicated. Today Turkey, yesterday Britain, before that Europe."
'Time to make a decision'
Addressing the peace process, Livni called on Netanyahu to "go to the people of Israel and tell them, 'This is the time for a decision, a decision between a Jewish state and a state of all its citizens with a solid Palestinian majority between the sea and the Jordan River. A Jewish state will only be maintained through a two-state arrangement. Any other way will lead to one other country between the sea and the Jordan River which is not Jewish.'
"But your government is trying to play for time and cowardly escape a decision. The hourglass is ticking. I find the price of this decision difficult as well, but the price of any other alternative is must worse."
Livni went on to slam the uproar over the Goldstone Report. "In your first conduct opposite (US special envoy George) Mitchell it appeared that you could act wisely and leave Jerusalem out of the dispute. The Americans exerted pressure and the Goldstone Report was taken off the table.
"Wonderful. But then Israel, led by you, had to boast of its performance, humiliate the Palestinians. And what happened is that the report is now back on the table. If hurting the Palestinians and humiliating Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) gives you pleasure, this shows that you are still in the field of 'there is no partner' and have not moved to the real negotiations field."
The opposition leader concluded her speech by asking the prime minister to support a change in the government system.
"I have one piece of advice for you: Support this matter. This time I am not asking you to change your mind. You were the one who worked vigorously to change the system in the past. Experience shows that what is good for one person at a certain time will change later. I, by the way, have changed my mind."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report