Analysis First Coalition Deal |

As Long as Netanyahu Is PM, Livni Will Have to Deal With the Palestinians His Way

Tzipi Livni, like other politicians that came before her, will have to yield to coalition politics in the pursuit of her pet cause - reaching an agreement with the Palestinians.

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

Tzipi Livni is no less trustworthy or cynical than other politicians who broke their word, bent over backwards, put away away their slogans and election speeches and galloped into the arms of the one they had described as the mother of all sin.

She is no different from Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres, David Levy and Benjamin Ben Eliezer, Benjamin Netanyahu (who personally pledged not to allow her near diplomatic missions in his government) and Shaul Mofaz, her successor at Kadima. And she is no different from her No. 3, Amir Peretz, who ostensibly left the Labor Party in a huff because Shelly Yacimovich refused to commit in advance not to join Netanyahu, and is now set to become environmental protection minister. The new Livni is just like them, only in a dress or in the words of Sarah Palin, with lipstick.

If we came to expect different norms from her, she is the first to say that those days of naivete and standing on principle all the way to the political wilderness are gone forever. The six seats she won made her more modest.

“I changed,” she said last night, after shaking Netanyahu’s hand in a chilly Knesset ceremony that looked like it came out of both their nightmares.

There is no need to disparage the prize she won for being the first to sign onto the coalition. Her choice was either to wither in the opposition and end up in an unmarked political grave or try to jumpstart some diplomatic process.

Besides the justice portfolio and chairing the ministerial committee for legislation, where she’ll be able to halt any racist or anti-democratic bill from the previous Knesset, she also got a license to deal with her pet cause.

She’ll deal with the Palestinians as long as Avigdor Lieberman is stuck in court, and she’ll deal with them even if he is acquitted and returns to the Foreign Ministry.

Where will this lead to? We can guess that as long as Netanyahu is prime minister, it will lead to nothing, nada. But Livni will be able at least to say she tried, not for her own sake, of course, but for the country’s sake, for our children’s sake. She spoke last night about her intention to end the conflict. Netanyahu let out a thin smile. For him, the conflict ended the day she entered his government. He will use her as whitewash, as a PR person overseas, the way outgoing ministers Ehud Barak and Dan Meridor were used. He’ll send her often to the Americans and Europeans, who like her, so she can explain how hard coalition life is, and how insubordinate the Palestinians are.

Livni also gets to enjoy a little revenge against Lapid and Yacimovich, who hazed her when she tried to unite the three parties into one cooperative bloc. If they told her then there was no such bloc, she proved to them they were right.

Netanyahu and Livni at a press conference on Tuesday evening. Credit: Michael Fattal

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