Trump’s visit Israel next week
“Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett deal in illusions,” said MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union), addressing the discussion regarding the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem. This, on the backdrop of opposition on the right to US President Donald Trump’s expected demand to kickstart negotiations with the Palestinians.
In an interview to Ynet, Livni added that the leaders of the Likud and Baiyt Yehudi “are selling the Israeli public delusional things that will never materialize.”
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Livni compared their conduct to the last months during which Netanyahu was in the opposition in 2009: “Netanyahu did it to me during Operation Cast Lead. He said, ‘We’ll beat Hamas,’ and ended up talking to Hamas. His disciple Bennett is now doing the same thing. He says ‘I will keep Jerusalem safe, I will strike Hamas, me, me, me.’ In the past, there was Arik Sharon to stand up to Netanyahu, rise above him and make difficult decisions. Today, Bennett is faced with Netanyahu, who is busy bypassing him from the right.”
Isn’t the Israeli center-left delusional that there is anywhere to go with the Palestinians? True, Trump is pushing, and perhaps also Netanyahu, but is there anyone to talk to on the Palestinian side?
“I have severe criticism (of the Palestinian side—ed) and have expressed it. Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) made a historic mistake when he refused the proposal of John Kerry and Barack Obama in 2014.”
So why should he get it now?
“I never said, ‘Let me speak to the Palestinians for 20 minutes and there will be peace.’ I am first and foremost Israeli. I want Israel to determine its interests, and Israel’s interests are not necessarily Netanyahu’s political interests. The interest of the State of Israel is to separate from the Palestinians.”
Do you support the transfer of the American Embassy to Jerusalem?
“Like every Israeli, I want to see the American Embassy and the other embassies move to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”
Then, what is the problem?
“The problem is that Netanyahu in this loud-mouthed diplomacy is not scoring any achievements for the State of Israel. His inability to create a real order of priorities causes tremendous erosion in the most basic and important things for us. Whoever insists on the isolated settlements harms the blocs. Whoever insists on the Arab villages in Jerusalem, will eventually lose the most important places to us in Jerusalem.”
On the one hand, you want to promote diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians, and on the other, you want the American embassy in Jerusalem, but I think the Americans say that the one doesn’t go with the other.
“Fine. It is our right and the duty of the Americans to consider their interests. Our role as Israelis is to say what we would like to happen and their role is to consider the consequences of all our actions.”
Do you think the administration and Trump himself are committed to a diplomatic move?
“I have no doubt. The comments were made public immediately after Netanyahu and Trump’s press conference, when Trump announced that he was committed to the deal, which is his priority.”
Are you expecting a real clash between Netanyahu and Trump?
“Even if there are clashes between Netanyahu and the new administration, this does not mean that there is a conflict of interest between Israel and the US. The interest of both is to create a regional process, to make Israel part of the region with the moderate Sunni states against Iran. ”
Those were the same interests four and eight years ago as well.
“Now Netanyahu’s interest is different from that of the State of Israel, and his interest is to maintain the coalition.”
Do you think Trump can subjugate Netanyahu?
“Trump said he does not want to impose a settlement, and I respect that statement, but the last thing Netanyahu needs today is to prove that he is always quarreling with the administration. I think that Trump has great leverage, and so does Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab countries in the region that can put it to use as long as the basic interests of the State of Israel in the field of security and guarding the blocs are preserved.”
By Ynet New
(Translated and edited by N. Elias)