Netanyahu weakens Israel
Op-ed: Tzipi Livni says words aren’t enough, prime minister must embark on negotiations
Regrettably, remaining at an indecisive junction prompts Israel to slide uncontrollably down a slippery slope. What we argued ever since the government was formed has turned - to my regret as an Israeli citizen - into a fact known to all: The diplomatic impasse is leading to diplomatic isolation.
This diplomatic isolation undermines Israel’s security and its ability to defend itself. The attempt to avoid decisions creates a situation whereby the world decides for us, and not in our favor.
I don’t know what, when and whether the United Nations will make a decision on a Palestinian state. Yet one thing is clear – today Israel is more isolated than ever. The bold, close friendship with the United States – a relationship that constitutes the pillar of Israel’s deterrent power – has become shrouded in dispute (even after Obama’s UN speech.). Meanwhile, the powerful Muslim anchors in the area, namely Turkey and Egypt, are switching sides against Israel.
Indeed, Israel is not at fault for everything that happens in the world and in the region. The Middle East was and remains a tough neighborhood - and mostly a tough neighborhood for Jews. We knew that from the early days of Zionist yet we chose to hold on and build a model state. We were able to face challenges, yet more importantly, we knew how to address them and win.
The dispute between us and the government is not over the belief in the righteousness of our way, which we all share. The debate has to do with the wisdom of our actions, and to my regret the absence of wise actions pushed the State of Israel into a diplomatic nadir that it simply should not be facing.
The UN’s moves will not be determined by Netanyahu’s speech. However, one thing is clear – speeches, as good as they may be, may make us feel proud and could be politically beneficial, yet they will have no diplomatic benefit. As one who was there and enlisted the world to Israel’s causes, I know that it’s important to speak about the righteousness of our way, yet this isn’t enough.
We already have a fine UN ambassador. What Israel needs is a prime minister with the wisdom to act.
I conveyed the following message to Netanyahu in our talks and I am saying the same now – think diplomatically, and don’t fear politically. Think about Israel, not about the coalition. Instead of delivering yet another speech, make a decision that would enable the launch of diplomatic negotiations.
If you initiate, we shall support it. Beyond that fact that only a diplomatic agreement would safeguard Israel’s security and national interests, the absence of such deal produces de-legitimization for the Jewish Israel, security escalation and UN votes being forced upon us. Anyone with eyes in their head realizes that Israel’s situation today is worse than it was a month ago, and next month it will be even graver should we make do with speeches.
Israel needs negotiations even without the UN threat, and had we seen such talks we would not be at the UN now. A return to negotiations is the real mission. This is the real victory. Restarting negotiations would stop the snowball rolling towards us at the UN and in general. The talks would prevent foreign plans that are not in our favor from being forced upon us. Negotiations shall also rectify the shaky relations with the US and avert the dangerous path of our ties with regional neighbors.
In order to embark on negotiations, Netanyahu needs others to believe him. It isn’t enough to deliver a speech about his philosophy – he must take action that would prompt everyone to believe him. The more time passes without talks, the higher the price exacted from Israel for entering negotiations. This price is not being paid by Netanyahu alone – the people of Israel are paying for it, at present and in the future.
An Israel that engages in negotiations is a different Israel, in its own eyes and in the eyes of the world. Indeed, the Palestinians’ also need to prove that we have a partner to end the conflict, yet this test is still ahead of us. On the other hand, Israel’s test is right now.
As opposition chairwoman, my role is not only to reprimand Netanyahu, but also to make it clear that there is another way. The historic fork in the road splits into two paths: One is the path of despair led by the Netanyahu government. This is a dead-end that weakens and isolates Israel.
The second way is the path of hope to be led by Kadima, under my leadership. This is a just path that enlists the world to our cause instead of fighting it. This path shall boost Israel vis-à-vis her external enemies and unite her with her friends, which keep on distancing from us. This path’s direction is clear – safeguarding Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Zionism was always wise enough to initiate moves in the face of threats directed at it, and we should take the initiative at this time as well. Had we initiated earlier, we would not be at this point now. At the current historical junction, Netanyahu chooses not to initiate. His government chooses impasse, a defensive posture, and victimization. Not only is this not a Zionist act in my view, this conduct weakens Israel.
Even when it appears that we are sliding down a one-way slope, it is still not late to make the choice. The path of hope is possible, and should we fail to embark on this road now in New York, we shall lead it from Jerusalem following the elections.