Livni says Netanyahu was ready to negotiate based on US framework
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'There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Trump could invite Netanyahu and Abbas to Mar-a-Lago, or wherever he meets people, and tell them this is the basis for a deal'

Livni says Netanyahu was ready to negotiate based on US framework

Former peace negotiator calls on White House to hold peace talks on basis of 2014 outline, blames Abbas for not picking up gauntlet

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

MK Tzipi Livni speaks during a visit to the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumin, in the West Bank on May 18, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Tzipi Livni speaks during a visit to the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumin, in the West Bank on May 18, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former peace negotiator MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said on Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was willing to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal based on the 1967 lines during the 2014 peace talks. She also called on the current US administration to adopt the framework agreement that was reached at the time as the basis for new peace talks.

Speaking at the Haaretz Peace Conference in Tel Aviv, Livni said, “Netanyahu always veers left, then gets to the crossroads and turns right.”

Using the prime minister’s nickname, she charged that “Bibi the politician doesn’t want to do what Netanyahu the statesman knows needs to be done.”

In recent days, new details were revealed about the framework agreement that then-US secretary of state John Kerry presented to Jerusalem and Ramallah. According to the leaks, published in Haaretz, the document called for negotiations based on the 1967 lines. Netanyahu reportedly accepted the terms; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not.

But Livni, who served as justice minister and chief peace negotiator at the time, said Netanyahu demanded the Americans provide him with “deniability,” to protect him from his hawkish political base.

“Netanyahu was ready to negotiate a two-state solution based on the 67 borders with lands swaps. What you hear from him today is a renunciation of that position,” she said. “Every single letter was acceptable to him,” she said about the framework agreement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and US President Donald Trump, right, speak at Ben Gurion International Airport prior to the latter's departure from Israel on May 23, 2017. (Koby Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and US President Donald Trump, right, speak at Ben Gurion International Airport prior to the latter’s departure from Israel on May 23, 2017. (Koby Gideon/GPO)

It was a “great achievement” to have Netanyahu agree to negotiate peace along the lines acceptable to the Palestinians and most of the international community, she said, adding that Abbas “made a historic mistake” by not picking up the gauntlet.

The current US administration does not want to coerce the two sides into an agreement, but the former justice minister said that US President Donald Trump could take the 2014 framework agreement and declare it the basis for a renewed peace process.

“There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. He could invite Netanyahu and Abbas to Mar-a-Lago, or wherever he meets people, and tell them this is the basis for an agreement,” Livni said.

The PA has dropped its preconditions for entering talks, no longer demanding a settlement freeze, “which makes it so much easier to enter the negotiation room,” the former foreign minister said. “At this stage, neither side wants to tell Trump no. So that’s a good point to start.”

Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog leads a Zionist Camp faction meeting in the Israeli parliament on June 12, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog leads a faction meeting in the Israeli parliament on June 12, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Peace talks have remained stagnant since the 2014 negotiations fell apart. On Monday, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said he and Netanyahu held talks last year about the possibility of his Zionist Union joining the government and together pushing for a regional peace initiative, but the effort fell apart when Netanyahu brought current Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, a hawk, into the coalition instead, mollifying critics on the right.

“The State of Israel could have been in the midst of an incredible regional peace process that we haven’t seen since the founding of the state,” Herzog said at the start of the weekly Zionist Union meeting.

“Netanyahu is the one who went soft, he betrayed the opportunity, and gave in to pressure by [Jerusalem Minister Ze’ev] Elkin, [Tourism Minister Yariv] Levin, and [Jewish Home leader Naftali] Bennett,” Herzog said.

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