Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will have to choose between Israel and Hamas, Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated that Israel will not hold negotiation with a Fatah-Hamas government, but while Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni (Kadima) seems to echo this firm stance, she says Netanyahu is responsible for the rough political waters Israel finds itself in.
"Netanyahu is not only failing to exercise damage control, or finding an alternative, he continues to derail Israel," she told Ynet Sunday.
"Leadership should have an impact. It is not too late, but Netanyahu is not doing anything. Talking about threats is not enough, you have to offer solutions. This is what we have been talking about for two years. The government should present a policy, but there is a global lack of faith in the prime minister.
"Israel has to present a policy that the world will believe in. You can't simply keep saying the world is against us," she said.
Livni, like Netanyahu and Barak, does not see Hamas as a negotiating partner: "Hamas is a very problematic organization, so any arrangement between Fatah and Hamas is cause for concern.
"The burden of proof lies with the new (Palestinian) government – if there is one – while Israel's test is to make sure that the Palestinian government follows the terms set by the Quartet – recognizing Israel, abandoning terror and abiding by previous agreements."
After the 2006 Palestinian elections, she added, the Kadima government demanded the world's support against Hamas. "The world knew the choice was between Israel, Fatah and a viable peace process, and Hamas and Iran. This is not happening today, because Netanyahu fails to present any alternative."
Livni, however, has only a vague answer to the question of "What now?" The opposition chairwoman said that back in 2006, the Kadima government "counted to 10" vis-à-vis Hamas' rise to power: "We called everyone and explained that Hamas was impossible to talk with. We created the Quartet's conditions, while simultaneously launching talks with the moderates.
"There are no negotiations today. Both Netanyahu and Abbas are standing on the edge of opposite icebergs, yelling at each other while actually only talking to their respective people. The icebergs are melting and the water is cold. This is his responsibility."
Failing policiesNetanyahu's initial reaction to the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation was "very bad" according to Livni. "The Israeli response not only discourages any future development, it seemingly jumps at the opportunity to say 'We told you so – this is another proof that we don't have a peace partner.'
"A Palestinian reconciliation prior to their statehood declaration in September is a very bad situation for Israel. Netanyahu is going to be the prime minister during whose term a Palestinian state was formed. Gaza will become Hamastan and this is a result of his inability to change the international trend."
Livni paints a bleak picture: "Netanyahu speaks aggressively against Hamas, but in reality, Hamas is gaining global legitimacy. The Gaza blockade is lifting slowly and Israel is getting weaker. The prime minister's response, saying nothing has a chance any more, will not make the world stand by us in the fight against Hamas. It will only isolate us further.
"Saying there is no partner is easy, but it does not work on a political level, no matter how many times Netanyahu says it," she added.
As for recent reports of the possibility the government will expand to include Kadima, Livni said that her party will not join a Netanyahu-led coalition, not even for September's "political tsunami," as Barak called it.
"Since this government came to be we have learned – every day – that there is no common denominator between Netanyahu and me. Netanyahu does not know how to make decisions and so he preserves a status quo that is detrimental to Israel. There is no reason for unity.
"Even facing a 'political tsunami' requires talking about a mutual path, not simply cowering in a corner in a manner that harms Israel and weakens it. Our situation has worsened over the past two years and Netanyahu cannot influence the international trends."
Livni vowed "to do everything possible against the Palestinians unilateral ambition. It is bad for Israel, but there is a difference between defending Israel and aiding the survival of a prime minister that only damages the country. I will not defend his policy, which prevents Israel from securing the world's support."
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