Hatnua party leader Tzipi Livni said Sunday that unlike Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, when she speaks, “the world listens.”
Livni was responding to criticism by right-wing lawmakers and the prime minister on Saturday night, after reports surfaced that she had asked Kerry to delay the Palestinian UN bid for statehood until after elections, lest it strengthen Israel’s right.
In an interview with Army Radio, Livni said she had asked US Secretary of State John Kerry to torpedo the UN Palestinian bid altogether, and not — as her critics had alleged — merely delay it until after the March 17 elections.
“I didn’t ask for the event to be delayed, I asked that it not take place,” Livni said of the UN Security Council vote. The former justice minister, who is running in the upcoming elections on a joint ticket with the Labor Party, maintained that “an imposed settlement is bad for Israel,” and accused Bennett of seeking a UN vote in order to boost his political standing.
“If Bennett thinks that an imposed settlement on Israel and a UN decision are good for him politically, then good for him,” Livni said. “The difference between me and Netanyahu and Bennett is that the world listens to me.”
Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, Livni’s running mate, defended her decision to address Kerry on the matter.
Herzog told Israel Radio Sunday that Livni’s move was aimed at preventing anti-Israel UN resolutions, as opposed to Netanyahu’s “weakness and lack of political responsibility.”
He claimed that right-wing criticism of Livni’s diplomatic strategy was an attempt to distract the public from pressing economic and social issues.
Netanyahu’s office on Saturday evening had released a statement saying that “the true faces of Tzipi and Boujie [Herzog] have been revealed. Immediately after the elections, they intend to retreat and allow the creation of a second Hamastan in Judea and Samaria.”
Foreign Policy had reported that Livni made the recommendation to Kerry along with former president Shimon Peres.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Sunday that the “invitation of foreign entities to interfere in the elections must be stopped immediately.”
“Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog don’t understand that in today’s Middle East, a Palestinian state is a recipe for disaster,” added Steinitz, a close ally of Netanyahu, who has pledged his commitment to the two-state solution.
On Saturday Bennett said that Livni had “reached the depths of political subversion. Behind the back of the sitting government she is managing activities that will hurt Israel, and all in order to harm ‘Bibi/Bennett.’ With all due respect, the interests of Mrs. Livni do not take priority over the interests of the state, and the demand to arrange an attack on Israel crosses a red line.”
Livni said she was proud to be serving Israeli interests at the UN in seeking to convince the US to scrap the Security Council vote on the recognition of Palestinian statehood.
A joint statement released by Labor and Hatnua Saturday said: “Livni [consistently] opposed any attempt by the Palestinians to impose a new reality on Israel by taking unilateral steps. This was her consistent approach, in public, and in private to the Americans, and this is her stance today.”
Foreign Policy reported that at a recent annual luncheon with the 28 European Union ambassadors, Kerry said that a UN vote before Israeli elections would only benefit those who oppose the peace process, like Netanyahu and Bennett. Kerry also intimated during the gathering that the US may support a Security Council resolution if the wording were appropriate, but he did not elaborate.
Kerry said the US would not allow the resolution to come to a vote before the Israeli elections, set for March 17, according to the report.
“Kerry has been very, very clear that for the United States it was not an option to discuss whatever text before the end of the Israeli election,” a European diplomat was quoted as saying.
The diplomat also said that Kerry spoke about a warning issued to him by Livni and Peres that a favorable UN vote “imposed by the international community would reinforce Benjamin Netanyahu and the hardliners in Israel.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.