Livni: Netanyahu's Peace Policy Shows an Utter Lack of Leadership

Speaking days after the Prime Minister's Office indicated the premier was preparing a new policy speech, the opposition leader says 'a speech cannot replace policy.'

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni dismissed a purported plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to launch a new peace initiative, saying on Sunday that the premier's attitude toward peace talks showed an utter lack of leadership.

Livni's remarks came after sources in the Prime Minister's Office said last week that the PM was considering a plan to cooperate with the Palestinians on the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, as part of an interim peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority that would be implemented immediately.

Tzipi Livni - Olivier Fitoussi
Olivier Fitoussi

Netanyahu's decision to consider changing his strategy, which he said in recent consultations with advisers was spurred by the recent anti-government protests in the Arab world, is a step back from his previous statement that he wants to attempt to reach a final-status agreement within a year.

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu remarked on the standstill in peace efforts, blaming the Palestinian Authority for failing to match Israel's willingness to compromise.

Speaking in Mevasseret Zion later Sunday, Livni dismissed Netanyahu's purported peace efforts, saying that the discussion in Israel today isn’t policy but, "what speech will the prime minister make to be on good terms with America. That is a complete lack of leadership."

"A speech is not real content, and hasbara [Israeli public diplomacy] cannot replace policy," Livni said, adding that "Israel's standing in the world will not be determined by speaking fluent English at the [U.S.] Congress or on CNN."

The Kadima chairperson also said that the lack of serious discussion regarding Israel's peace efforts was causing the premier to center on what to say to remain on good terms with both [U.S. President Barack] Obama and [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman, without any sense of doing the right thing for this people."

"It is possible," Livni said, to "bring the world on board with Israel's interests, which is something that has happened in the past."

"The most right-wing government is begging today to enter negotiations on terms significantly less favorable than those we faced when we ran peace talks with the blessing of the entire world," Livni added.

Livni's comments came after last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Netanyahu's  initiative, saying he would not accept an Israeli peace plan if it called for temporary borders for a future Palestinian state.

“The Palestinian position is the establishment of a state on all the territory occupied in 1967. That is the consensus position in keeping with decisions by the Arab League and the international community,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh told reporters in Ramallah.