livni - Emil Salman - August 3 2011
Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, August 3, 2011. Photo by Emil Salman
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Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) broke her silence Sunday over the Gilad Shalit’s prisoner exchange which saw the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for the abducted soldier, stating that the deal “legitimizes and strengthens” Hamas.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Livni said that “Israel is losing its military deterrence,” and that the next phase of the prisoner exchange, in which another 550 Palestinian prisoners are to be released, must be “coordinated with Abbas, rather than with Hamas.”

Livni further stated that the peace process must be restarted as a “matter of national interest” which will show the world that it does not act solely after soldiers are kidnapped.

Two weeks ago Haaretz reported that in peace talks with the Palestinian Authority in 2009, Israel agreed to release 550 prisoners as a good-will gesture toward Abbas, when and if a swap deal with Hamas was to takes place.

The deal was struck in order to strengthen the moderate Abbas government in the West Bank so as to not bolster Hamas at the expense of the Palestinian Authority.

In response to Livni’s comments, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz stated that the Shalit deal followed guidelines set by Kadima under Livni, and that her comments are “baseless.”