Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly losing trust in the performance of Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator, in peace talks with the Palestinians, amid suggestions that she is offering too many concessions.
His discontent has been fuelled by reports that she has offered compromises and territorial concessions in informal conversations with Palestinian negotiators and American mediators that have taken place away from the main negotiation sessions.
Gaps have also emerged between Mrs Livni, the most dovish member of the Israeli cabinet who also serves as justice minister, and Yitzhak Molcho, Mr Netanyahu’s personal envoy who accompanies her in the talks, the newspaper Ma’ariv reported.
While Mrs Livni favours “large working teams” that would seek to reach a historic “final status agreement” at the end of the nine months allotted to the talks, Mr Molho — representing the views of his boss — believes that to be unrealistic. Instead he favours only an “agreement in principle” on the core issues that can be consolidated into a formal pact at a later stage.
But the pair are divided by more fundamental issues, Ma’ariv reported. “The problem Molcho has with Livni is far deeper and pertains to the question of how much trust Netanyahu has in Livni as the head of the Israeli negotiating team with the Palestinians,” the newspaper’s commentator, Eli Bardenstein wrote.
“According to information that was presented to Netanyahu, while Livni has always carefully toed the line set by the prime minister in all the formal talks held with Molcho at her side, in talks [she] has held with American officials and in hallway conversations she has held with Palestinians officials, Netanyahu and Molcho have heard that Livni has strayed from the official line, and her statements would indicate that Israel was prepared to make concessions on its official positions at the current stage of things.”
Mr Netanyahu has been reportedly upset that Mrs Livni offered to compromise on Jerusalem, which both Israel and the Palestinians claim as their capital. She has also spoken of withdrawing from the West Bank, where around 350,000 Israeli settlers live, and dismantling settlements.
While such concessions are widely seen as essential to any peace agreement, the prime minister is understood to oppose putting them on the table before it is known what the Palestinians will give in return.
In a statement, Mrs Livni’s office said she had “close and good working relations” with Mr Molcho. “We have not and will not make any comment about the content of the negotiations, and this should not be viewed as either a denial or a confirmation of the report,” the statement added.
Mrs Livni and Mr Molcho have held at least two meetings with Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, and Mohammed Shtayyeh, personal envoy of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, since the formal revival of peace talks last month.
Amid a media black-out, there has been little indication of progress.
Palestinian officials said talks scheduled for Monday in the West Bank city of Jericho were cancelled in protest after three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Qalandiyah refugee camp in the West Bank. However, Israeli media reported that a meeting had taken place.
(Source / 27.08.2013)