Reports of PA 'Collapse' Spur Call by MK Livni to Convene Knesset Committee

Haaretz article provokes letter by Tzipi Livni, urging foreign affairs committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi to set up discussion on preparations for and ramifications of such a scenario.

MK Tzipi Livni at a meeting of the Zionist Union faction, with party leader Isaac Herzog, on Monday.
Olivier Fitoussi

MK Tzipi Livni sent a letter Tuesday to MK Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, demanding that he convene the committee for an urgent discussion about the possibility that the Palestinian Authority is collapsing.

Livni (Zionist Union) approached Hanegbi (Likud) following publication of a report in Haaretz on Tuesday morning to the effect that at the diplomatic-security cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the need to prepare for the possibility of a PA collapse.

“In recent months the possible collapse of the PA has become more likely,” wrote Livni to Hanegbi. “According to reports, the subject was discussed in the diplomatic-security cabinet as a real and undesirable possibility for the State of Israel. Security sources, along with diplomatic sources in Israel and abroad, are warning of such a scenario, and recommending the formulation of an official policy to prevent a collapse and measures to prevent it from happening.”

Livni added that this discussion should be held in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in light of the possible dramatic consequences of an event of this kind – regardless of the various opinions politicians may have of it. She wrote that committee members should be given an up-to-date assessment regarding the PA and the possibility of it falling apart; the significance of such a situation in terms of security, diplomacy and the economy; and the necessary security and diplomatic preparations that should be made in the event that it takes place.

“As time passes and the wave of terror is only becoming stronger, and as reports of a real possibility of the collapse of the PA are increasing – it’s important to conduct the above-mentioned discussion at the earliest possible opportunity,” Livni wrote in the letter to Hanegbi.

In recent weeks the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee was almost totally paralyzed due to the campaign chairman Hanegbi was waging over the post of chairman of the Likud Party Central Committee. In recent days he hasn’t even been in the country. The acting chairman of the panel, in the event of urgent matters only, is MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi).

Livni’s office began this morning to collect the signatures of MKs in order to obtain the support of one-third of the committee members – the number necessary in order to force Hanegbi to convene a discussion.

Specifically, Haaretz reported Tuesday that in the past 10 days, the diplomatic-security cabinet has held two sessions dealing with the possibility of a PA collapse, in light of the general freeze in diplomatic activity, the escalation of security problems and violence on the ground, the economic crisis in the West Bank and the political crisis among the Palestinian leadership. Discussions on the subject started already in late November 2015, after the failure of the visit to the region of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

“We must do everything possible to prevent the collapse of the PA and at the same time we have to prepare in case it happens,” the prime minister said at the conclusion of the cabinet session on Sunday, according to two senior officials who were informed of the details.

A senior Israeli official said discussions on the subject were convened in the wake of written and verbal opinions conveyed by members of the defense establishment to the government in recent months, warning of a scenario in which the PA will no longer be able to function and in effect will become “insolvent.” The official said that the defense establishment warned that in such a situation, the PA is liable to “collapse on Israel,” with all the security-related and civic implications involved.