'Tzipi Livni Is Not Worthy of Being PM'

Former minister Benny Begin, who has returned to politics after an extended absence and is now running for a Knesset seat on the Likud ticket, recently slammed Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni for marketing the disengagement from Gaza as a move that would bring tranquility to Israel and questioned her suitability for the job of prime minister.

"The foreign minister bears responsibility for [Security Council] Resolution 1701, in which she takes great pride. Under the auspices of Resolution 1701, Hezbollah has tripled the number of warheads in its possession," Begin said late last week in an interview with Haaretz Magazine that will be published Friday. "The foreign minister is also responsible for the disengagement. She marketed it enthusiastically and explained the tranquility that would descend upon us once the settlements were uprooted ... but she did not heed our warnings and cannot absolve herself of that grave mistake. Accordingly, it can be said that the foreign minister has repeatedly shown policy misjudgment."

"So the question is: Where is the limit?" Begin asked. "After a lengthy series of failures, is it still possible to say that she is worthy to be prime minister?"

Despite his criticism of Israel's pullout from the settlements of Gush Katif, Begin said he did not think Israel would recapture the Gaza Strip.

"Even though I think the abandonment of the Gaza district was a serious mistake, I do not think the status quo ante can be restored," Begin said. "I do not see Israel returning to Gaza in the long term."

Begin, the son of former prime minister Menachem Begin, opposes the evacuation of West Bank settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, asking: "What is the prospect that such a state will be both viable and peaceful?"

"The two-state solution is a slogan," Begin said. "The way of concessions collapsed when we handed over parts of our land and got terror."