Tzipi Livni and the dangers of peace theater

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The homes of the terrorists who murdered Border Police officer Hadas Malka on Friday evening are now bedecked with Fatah flags and banners reading, “Our heroes.”

Far from condemning the terrorist attack, Palestinian Authority chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and his comrades are condemning Israel. Its security forces, they allege obscenely, committed a “war crime” when they killed the three terrorists to stop their rampage.

The only reason that these actions are not enough to warrant the US and the rest of the West – not to mention the Israeli Left – treating Fatah/PLO as the terrorist group they are and have always been, is because doing so would require them to stop playacting at peace making.

And they couldn’t have that.

Instead, they mimic or recycle “peace process” lingo about “windows of opportunity,” and reincarnate failed peace processors.

In apparent bid to do the latter, last Friday Channel 10 first reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked MK Tzipi Livni to join his government with her Knesset faction and serve as his foreign minister.

While Likud denied the report, Livni claims Netanyahu made the offer through mediators that have been carrying out indirect negotiations between the two politicians.

Livni also has said that she rejected Netanyahu’s offer because she doesn’t believe he is willing to adopt her expansively pro-PLO positions.

Assuming that Livni is telling the truth and Likud’s denial is false, we need to ask why Netanyahu made the attempt.

There’s certainly no love lost between the two. Netanyahu’s last campaign centered on Livni’s radicalism.

The fact that the Labor Party formed a joint candidates list with Livni radicalized the party, he argued. Livni, for her part, was the main reason Netanyahu’s last government fell apart. She was disloyal and subversive throughout her brief tenure as justice minister.

Politically Livni has nothing to offer Netanyahu. As things stand today, Livni has no future in politics. She is unpopular in the Labor Party. And if she runs as an independent list, she is unlikely to even pass the four-seat threshold to be reelected to Knesset.

Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid Party has been leading Labor as the most popular Center-Left political party, has evinced no interest in joining forces with Livni.

So why would Netanyahu be interested in resuscitating her political career by making her his foreign minister?

There are, it would seem, three possible explanations for the reported move.

First, Netanyahu may have decided to bring Livni into his government to ensure that he has a Knesset majority for some incipient peace deal with the PLO.

Leaving aside the plausibility of such a deal the fact is that if it were concluded, Netanyahu wouldn’t need Livni. Any credible deal with the PLO would receive the support of at least three quarters of the members of Knesset, including that of Livni and her faction members.

So it cannot be that he wants her for political cover.

Then there’s the possibility that he wants her because he wants to cut a deal with Abbas the terrorism supporter and Livni has lots of experience negotiating with Abbas and his deputies.

But then again, Livni’s vast experience aside, she’s never concluded a deal with the PLO. The only deal she ever concluded was with Hezbollah. And it was terrible for Israel.

As foreign minister during the 2006 war with Hezbollah, Livni negotiated the cease-fire agreement that became UN Security Council resolution 1701.

Her deal was a diplomatic and strategic disaster for Israel. Resolution 1701 legitimized Hezbollah – a terrorist organization and an Iranian proxy army – on the world stage. Resolution 1701 treated Israel and Hezbollah as peers. It also pretended that the Lebanese Armed Forces were a credible military force that operated independently of Hezbollah, when the truth was that Hezbollah worked hand in glove with the LAF during the war.

Even worse, the resolution effectively surrendered south Lebanon to Hezbollah control and paved the way for Hezbollah’s open takeover of the Lebanese government – and armed forces – the following year.

Livni claimed she had secured Israel’s interests by expanding UNIFIL, the UN forces under whose nose Hezbollah set up its bases in southern Lebanon and opened the war against Israel by killing and abducting the bodies of IDF reservists patrolling the border.

The notion that UNIFIL could be trusted to block Hezbollah from expanding its control over the border with Israel was a ridiculous and dangerous fantasy.

And it was a fantasy Livni enthusiastically embraced.

As for her negotiations with the Palestinians, both prime minister Ehud Olmert and Netanyahu placed her in charge of negotiating a peace deal with the PLO.

She failed to secure a deal despite the fact that she was willing to surrender Israel’s strategic interests to achieve one.

Her repeated failures reinforced the already self-evident conclusion, brought home yet against this week with the PA’s celebration of Hadas Malka’s murderers, that the PLO will not reach an accord with Israel, ever.

Given Livni’s serial incompetence and recklessness, it is hard to believe Netanyahu would dare to put the nation at risk by appointing her to head its negotiating team, yet again.

This leaves us with the third and frankly only plausible reason that Netanyahu may have decided to offer Livni the foreign ministry: US pressure.

This week, US President Donald Trump has sent his top negotiations people – Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Senior Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt – to Israel to push Israel into negotiations with the PLO.

The White House’s press release ahead of their trip proclaimed, “President Trump has made it clear that working towards achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is a top priority for him. He strongly believes that peace is possible.”

Assuming that the White House is serious, it appears Netanyahu has decided to play along with the delusion Trump and his advisers share regarding the prospects of achieving peace.

Recognizing that the same PA that celebrates Hadas Malka’s killers’ as “heroes” and pays salaries to tens of thousands of other “heroes” every month will never, ever make peace with Israel, Netanyahu has all the same decided to play along with Trump and his advisers.

Doing so, he assumes, is less costly than trying to explain why their belief that a deal is possible is pure delusion.

And so he offered Livni the job.

The problem is that Netanyahu’s move – assuming that he did in fact make it – is not risk free. Indeed, it is downright dangerous.

It is dangerous first because it feeds the American delusion that peace is possible. This delusion has caused the US to pretend for 24 years that there is a difference between terrorism directed against Israelis and terrorism directed against the rest of the world.

This delusion has caused the US to fund Palestinian terrorism and train Palestinian terrorists and legitimize the PLO terrorist organization.

This delusion has caused the US to wrongly blame Israel for the absence of peace. And, as has happened hundreds and hundreds of times, last Friday this delusion took a human toll as Malka was murdered by members of Abbas’s US-supported Fatah terrorist group.

Hopefully, Likud’s denial really was true and Netanyahu never offered Livni the job.

Perhaps Livni made up the story to make herself look relevant at the twilight of her failed political career.

Probably the truth is somewhere in the middle.

But true or false, the story makes clear that Netanyahu has not met the central challenge he faces with the Trump administration.

Netanyahu’s central challenge is not to humor Trump, Greenblatt and Kushner by joining their peace theater. His challenge is to convince them that chances of reaching a deal with those who celebrate and reward Hadas Malka’s murderers are even smaller than Livni’s chances of getting reelected to the Knesset.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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