An historic final peace agreement was reached by Israel and the Palestinian Authority Friday, only to fall through by Sunday morning due to a chain of events set off by an unfortunate tweet by Tzipi Livni. The Times of Israel has learned some of the behind-the-scenes details.
It was only days after Livni, the leader of the Hatnua party, signed on to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition as head of Israel’s negotiating team, that she informed the prime minister that she’d achieved what for almost a decade had seemed unattainable – an outline for a final peace deal with the country’s life-long enemies.
According to a senior government official, under the arrangement Israel was to retain total control over all of Jerusalem and the West Bank. In exchange, the Palestinians would be given the city of Tel Aviv.
“With miles of beaches and myriad premium gourmet dining options, it was simply too good for [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas to pass up,” the official said. “It was really quite amazing: After five hours of negotiations with Abbas, Livni was tired and wanted to get home to watch Master Chef – she had recorded it during the campaign and was rooting for Salma. She just wanted to go home.”
It was at that point, he said, that everything changed.
“Livni threw up her hands and sighed. ‘Fine,’ she said. ‘We’ll give you Tel Aviv. Just leave us Jerusalem and the West Bank,’” the official, who was in the room at the time, recalled.
“Abbas’s eyes opened wide,” he said. “The PA president then asked Livni, to make sure he hadn’t misunderstood, ‘Tel Aviv?’ It was at that point that Livni perked up. ‘Yes,’ she replied. ‘Take it. Take the beaches and the embassies and Haoman 17. Take Mike’s Place and Rothschild. Take it all.’”
“And at that moment,” the official said, “Abu Mazen stood, extended his hand and simply said, ‘Deal.’”
Livni and Amir Peretz, who was also in attendance, shook Abbas’s hand and promptly left the room. “We were both amazed, shocked,” the official recalled. “Livni was just disappointed she hadn’t done this a few months ago,” he added. “She was kicking herself. She kept mumbling, ‘I could have been prime minister.’”
But later that evening, she prematurely spilled the beans.
Mistakenly thinking she was sending a private message, Livni tweeted the prime minister, “Hey Beebs, guess who just made peace! They’re in. We just have to give them Tel Aviv.” But the message wasn’t sent privately to Netanyahu. Rather, and in a move that would ultimately kill the deal, it spread like wildfire .
Within hours, thousands of hipsters took to the streets of Tel Aviv. “Peace is pointless without our coffee houses!” they chanted.
“What’s the point,” a 21-year-old photography student was overheard saying. “I promised my parents I’d get out of the army. I did. I promised I’d get a profession. I got one. Now I’m studying my ass off — taking pictures of fruit at the shuk every day, and living in a two-bedroom apartment that my parents rented for me without even asking me if I liked the place — and for what? So that I have to go live in Jerusalem? Really?!”
As the night progressed, young Tel-Avivians staged sit-ins in coffee shops throughout the city, refusing to go home. “We’ll drink espresso until we get the answer we want!” one student posted on her Myspace page. “There are things more important than land!” another wrote on his Facebook wall.
On Sunday morning, Abbas called a press conference during which he vehemently denied that an agreement had been reached. As he walked away from the microphones, he was overheard angrily muttering majnuna, Arabic for “crazy woman.”
“Livni had no idea what she’d done,” the official said. “She’d achieved the impossible and lost it within hours. And why? Because she sucks at social networks. I told her to stop tweeting while she watches Master Chef. She does it all the time.”
Upon entering the Knesset Sunday morning to attend an emergency meeting with the prime minister, Livni and Peretz were seen in animated conversation as they left an elevator. Peretz was overheard saying, “It’s not a big deal. We’ve all done things like this. It happens all the time. One time, at the Histadrut…”