Livni Joins Olmert's Attack on Netanyahu Over Criticism of Abbas

Former Kadima chairwoman hails Palestinian president's conciliatory statements to Israel's Channel 2, says he held same position in negotiations with Olmert government in 2008.

Former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Sunday echoed criticism by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In what appeared as the opening salvo of a joint campaign, both Livni and Olmert condemned Netanyahu for his statements against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who, in an interview to Israel's Channel 2, said he views Palestine as the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital.

Abbas admitted in the interview that as a Palestinian refugee from Safed he wants to return to the city, but said only as a tourist, because Safed is part of Israel. "I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine. And the other parts are Israel," Abbas said. "Now and forever."

Netanyahu rejected Abbas' statements, saying his words do not match his actions. Livni, however, praised the Palestinian president, saying his statements were "brave."

"These are the statements we heard in the negotiating room," Livni told Channel 2. "It is unfortunate that for four years, the Israeli government is telling the public that there is no partner for peace… for four years there have been no trust between the two sides. In order to enter negotiations, there needs to be trust. Instead, the foreign minister is leading a campaign to oust Abu Mazen."

"Whoever is interested in preserving a secure Jewish and democratic state, should embrace this interview," Livni said. "But peace has turned into a dirty word - whoever talks of an agreement is now considered a delusional leftist."

Livni has been mulling the possibility of returning to politics, possibly as part of a new party headed by Olmert. "We must work together to bring down Netanyahu," Livni told Channel 2.

Earlier Sunday, Olmert accused Netanyahu of harming Israel's interests and strengthening Hamas. 


Olmert said that Netanyahu is responsible for the stalled negotiations with the Palestinians and accused the prime minister of "trying to prove to the Israeli public that there is no partner on the Palestinian side."