The Palestinian Authority has weighed in on the prospective appointment of Avigdor Liberman as Defense Minister – and it isn’t happy. The PA’s Foreign Office on Thursday said that the decision by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to bring Liberman into his government was “further proof that there is no real partner for peace in Israel.”
The decision, said the PA, “is Netanyahu’s response to the attempts by France, the international community, and countries in the region to bolster the peace process on both sides. Netanyahu is sending a clear message that Israel prefers extremism, and a strengthening of the occupation and settlements instead of peace.”
On Sunday, Netanyahu met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, telling him that any peace plan that sought to advance needed to be based on direct negotiations with the PA. Without such direct negotiations, Netanyahu told his cabinet, there was little point in trying to strike a deal. “Our experience with history shows that only this way did we achieve peace with Egypt and Jordan and that any other attempt only makes peace more remote and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict, which is nonrecognition of the State of Israel. They simply avoid negotiating with us as part of their desire to avoid resolving the root of the conflict,” he said.
Absent from the media discussion over whether or not Zionist Camp should join the government over the past week was Tzipi Livni – who was silent because she was sitting shivah for a brother. With the shivah behind her, she spoke out for the first time Thursday on the affair – the near-inclusion of party head Yitzchak Herzog in the government, and his last-minute rejection of a deal. “History will not forgive Netanyahu for the damage he is doing to Israel by naming Liberman Defense Minister,” she said.
“Our own children will not forgive us for our failure to choose between moderation and extremism, between democracy and nationalism, between peace and isolation, and for the inevitable security deterioration,” said Livni on Army Radio. “Netanyahu is making an ‘expedient’ political choice – a cynical, narrow right-wing government, forget about responsibility and defense.”