Israel: Livni pledges ‘dramatic decisions’ as Israelis, Palestinians talk

21st Aug 2013

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have held another round of peace talks. Chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni said there would be “dramatic decisions in the end,” despite friction within the ruling coalition.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also lead negotiator with Palestinians, refused to comment on a third round of peace talks between the two sides during a radio interview. Livni said that both parties had agreed to a media blackout on the negotiations as a mutual trust-building process.

“We are arguing, but we are arguing inside the room,” Livni said in an interview with Israel Radio prior to Tuesday’s talks.

But Livni did say “there will be dramatic decisions” by Israel by the end of the negotiating process, expected to last between six and nine months. She admitted, however, that elements of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government made the process more difficult.

“It is no secret that there is at least one party [in the Israeli government] that sees negotiations as wrong, that opposes two states for two peoples,” Livni said.

Radio silence on particulars

Livni appeared to be referring to Jewish Home, an ultra-nationalist party that is one of Netanyahu’s junior coalition partners. Party leader Naftali Bennett wrote a one-line response on his Facebook profile after Livni’s interview, saying “Get over it.”

Jewish Home favors Israel’s policy of building settlements on territory in the West Bank and Jerusalem that the Palestinians want for a future state. Most international countries have decried the settlement building as illegal; the issue was a major reason for five years of stagnation in the Middle East peace process. The Jewish Home party also opposes the idea of a Palestinian state, with the so-called two-state solution described by Livni as “something I support with all my heart.”

Livni, a former opposition leader, is also a member of a fringe party in the Netanyahu government, having set up a bloc called “Hatnuah” (“The Movement”) in 2012. She called on Tuesday for the opposition Labor party to “lend its support now” to government efforts in the negotiations, a move that would help Prime Minister Netanyahu in the event of reticence within his own government.

An official Israeli statement released after Tuesday’s negotiations said only that “both sides parted agreeing the meeting has been serious, and that they will continue the talks at a near date.”

Livni has represented Israel at the talks alongside Yitzhak Molcho, a senior aide to Netanyahu. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayyeh, an advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas, have represented the Palestinian side.

msh/jm (AP, Reuters)

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