According to Tzipi Livni, who announced Tuesday that she will run in the upcoming Knesset elections at the helm of a new party, “The Movement,” the Israeli government could have avoided the Palestinians’ UN bid for nonmember observer state status had Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration been willing to engage in direct negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Speaking to Israel Radio on Friday, hours after the UN General Assembly voted 138-9 in favor of the status upgrade with 41 abstentions, the former Kadima chief and ex-foreign minister called the unilateral step taken by the Palestinians a “strategic attack.”
Based on the UN vote, Livni said, the Palestinians can now sue Israel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and “they received recognition as a state with borders and Jerusalem as its capital without conducting negotiations, and with no representation of the Israeli position.”
According to Livni, any entry into negotiations with the Palestinians at present will be under worse conditions for the Israelis.
Livni defended her entry into the Knesset race on Tuesday by saying the she seeks to enlarge the center-left camp, which by and large supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian state roughly along pre-1967 boundaries.
But based on a handful of surveys published since it became apparent that she would run with a new party, Livni is projected to get nine or 10 Knesset seats. It’s not clear that she wouldn’t just be stealing seats from her ideological compatriots, including those in the Labor Party and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid.
Left-wing Meretz Party chief Zahava Gal-On said Friday that a Palestinian state is in Israel’s interest, and that Jerusalem should have supported Abbas’s UN bid.
Gal-On told Israel Radio that the upgrade to nonmember observer state status signals to the Israeli government that it must now enter into negotiations with the Palestinians.
She added that countries around the world “did not buy the bluff” that the Israeli government is striving for peace. Gal-On said that with the UN vote Thursday, Israel’s rejectionist foreign policy had received “a resounding slap in the face.”