Livni’s political strategy
For Justice Minister Tzipi Livi, all politics are personal.
She can be trusted, because she is good. Her opponents must be rejected, because they are evil.
In her speech at The Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference in Herzliya last Thursday, Livni insisted that the only “legitimate” basis for opposing a Palestinian state is ideological. Livni stridently rejected the notion that one can oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state – in the two-state solution framework – for security reasons.
As she sees it, everyone cares equally about security. And since she cares about security just as much as her political opponents do, the question of whose policy will better protect the country is illegitimate.
She’s nice. She cares. So she’s just as competent as the next guy. There’s just one problem with Livni’s claim. She has a track record.
ISRAEL ENACTED two major strategic initiatives that have her signature on them: the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 from 2006 that set the terms for the end of the Second Lebanon War. Both were massive failures. Both caused Israel’s national security to deteriorate. And in both cases, Livni’s political opponents warned that her strategies were wrong-headed, dangerous and unhinged from strategic realities.
Livni built her career on her support for the withdrawal of all Israeli civilians and security forces from the Gaza Strip. It was her decision to jump on the expulsions bandwagon, and her fervent castigation and demonization of all her former colleagues and voters, that caused then prime minister Ariel Sharon to promote her from a the backwaters of the Absorption Ministry to center stage at the Justice Ministry. Within months Livni became second only to Ehud Olmert in seniority in Sharon’s government.
As justice minister, Livni ignored the law and trounced democratic norms to repress opponents of the withdrawal. Licensed buses transporting law abiding citizens to legal protests were unlawfully intercepted en route by police. Protest organizers were subjected to warrantless, middle-of-the-night searches, unlawful seizure of private property and arbitrary arrests without charge. 13-year-old girls were arrested for participating in protests. They were jailed for four months without charges being brought against them.
And Livni, who since her 2003 ideological transformation from nationalist to radical leftist has presented herself as the guardian of Israeli democracy, oversaw the entire process.
We know what happened after Israel withdrew from Gaza. Just as all of Livni’s opponents warned, Israel was shelled by more rockets, mortars and missiles than ever before. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are now in range of Gaza’s terror armies. Hamas took over Gaza, and transformed it into a hub for the global jihad, linking the jihad against Israel to the jihad against Egypt and the rest of the world. Gaza, which before the withdrawal was never more than a tactical nuisance, became a regional strategic threat.
As the war the next year showed, Israel’s decision to cut and run from Gaza, and its willingness to forcibly expel ten thousand of its most productive citizens from their homes, was a profound expression of weakness. Just as the withdrawal opponents warned, it invited the aggression that Hezbollah visited on us.
As foreign minister during the war, Livni was responsible for organizing Israel’s diplomatic defense and managing relations with the US and Europe. She chose a strategy of preemptive capitulation. Against the will of prime minister Ehud Olmert, Livni began negotiating the cease-fire in the early days of the war, vacuously insisting that there was no military solution to a terrorist organization’s war of aggression.
The result of her dubious efforts was 1701, which from Israel’s perspective is arguably the most problematic Security Council resolution ever passed. Not only did 1701 treat Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that fought an illegal war against Israel, as a legitimate party simply by ignoring it. It made Hezbollah the victor in the war by ensuring it would retake control of Lebanon’s border with Israel without any serious opposition.
THESE TWO strategic initiatives are Livni’s national security track record. As their failures show, whatever her intentions may be, she is totally incompetent to understand, secure or advance Israel’s national security.
From her egomaniacal insistence that she is The One who will bring the peace, it is apparent that Livni has never accepted responsibility for the damage she has caused the country. But she does seem to recognize that she cannot defend her actions on their merits. Just as the only card she plays in her favor is egomaniacal self-aggrandizement, so the only card she plays against her opponents is aggressive demonization.
Sunday the cabinet approved the release of another 26 terrorist murderers from prison. The release is second of four tranches that will bring about the release of 104 terrorist murderers from prison. This is the price that Livni and US Secretary of State John Kerry convinced Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to pay for the privilege of having Livni sit across a negotiating table from Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.
In a bid to block the cabinet decision, on Saturday night the Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) party released a statement saying that Israel mustn’t endanger the public just so that Livni can sit at a table with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. The statement attracted a lot of media attention because it was on the mark. Livni’s negotiations are endangering Israel’s national security. Hundreds of Israelis have been murdered over the years by terrorists Israel released early from prison for political reasons. More will certainly be murdered by those now being released.
And that isn’t all. The act of releasing terrorists emboldens other terrorists to strike. When they see these murderers welcomed home as heroes after serving a fraction of their life sentences, wouldbe murderers understand that they have a free hand to kill Jews.
Then there are the lessons the Palestinians have learned over 20 years of negotiations. They know that Israel deals with terrorism with kid gloves when negotiations are taking place. Out of fear of angering their Palestinian “partners” Israel’s leaders have consistently failed to take effective action against terrorist attacks that occur while the PLO is supposedly talking peace with us. So just by sitting down with Erekat, Livni is constraining the freedom of action of the IDF to protect the country. The recent spate of terrorist attacks, and the IDF’s timid response to them, made this clear, yet again.
The Jewish Home party’s statement neatly encapsulated all of these incontrovertible charges. Since she has no substantive defense against them, she responded with rank demonization and criminalization. Speaking to Army Radio, Livni’s surrogate, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, said, “The Jewish Home party has become a messianic and extremist home. The incitement and hatemongering is egregious…. Angry statements like this… can lead to murder.”
AND THERE you have it. Livni, the egomaniacal failure, is competent because she says she cares; and her opponents, who were right about the Gaza withdrawal, right about 1701 and are right about the terrorist releases and the negotiations, are murderers.
Livni promised the audience at the conference last Thursday that she will never quit politics again. Let’s hope her word on that score is as solid as her national security credentials.