Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s top negotiator in talks with the Palestinian Authority, chastised Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday evening over comments he’d made the previous day dismissing the viability of peace talks, saying “grumbling and despairing is easy…our responsibility is to change reality.”
In an interview on Saturday, Ya’alon said there would not be peace in his era and decried Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as someone who is not a partner for a final agreement.
Livni, in a Facebook post Sunday evening, wrote “Those who state there will be no accord in our era are the ones who have given up. A responsible leadership must not give up on the most basic interest of the state of Israel: the one intended to protect Zionism and us as a Jewish, democratic nation – the one that promises we will not become a binational state.”
“Yes, it’s complex and difficult, but grumbling and despairing is easy,” Livni wrote. “We as decision makers are not observers or commentators. Both leaderships must make decisions.
“Simply voicing criticism of the other side (I have some too) is not a plan of action for leaders,” Livni went on. “Our responsibility is to change reality to safeguard and protect that which is important to us.”
Abbas is currently in the US, where he was meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday ahead of talks with President Barack Obama on Monday.
Speaking to Channel 2, Likud minister Ya’alon had said that the Palestinian leader was “a partner for taking, but not a partner for giving. He’s not a partner for a final agreement, at the end of which there is recognition of Israel’s rights as the nation state of the Jewish people, an end of the conflict and an end to all demands. He [Abbas] says this openly,” said Ya’alon.
Ya’alon, who has previously been highly critical of US-proposed security arrangements for the West Bank, also warned that if Israel pulled out of the territories, Hamas would topple Abbas, and said the only thing keeping Abbas in power was Israel. “If we won’t be in the West Bank, Hamas will rule there and Abbas will not be relevant,” he said, warning of the potential formation of a second “Hamas-stan” alongside Israel. “Today Abbas exists because of our bayonets.”
Meretz head Zahava Gal-on also denounced Ya’alon Sunday, saying he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government were obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The defense minister’s comments revealed “the true face of the Israeli government,” Gal-on said. “This is a government on the extreme right which does not believe in peace with the Palestinians,” she added.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.