Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Tzipi Livni (12)


The Latest from Israel-Gaza-Palestine (27 February): Livni Rejects Netanyahu Coalition

cairo-talksAfternoon Update (11:30 a.m. GMT): Kadima leader Tzipi Livni says she will not join Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu in a governing coalition: Kadima will be a "responsible opposition".

Morning Update (8 a.m. GMT; 10 a.m. Israel/Palestine): The more extravagant headlines on yesterday's Palestinian "reconciliation" talks in Cairo proclaim "Vow to Release prisoners, Unify".

It's not quite that straightforward. Hamas and Fatah did agree to an effective swap of political detainees/prisoners in Gaza and the West Bank and "to stop smear campaigns in the media". The 12 Palestinian groups also agreed to form five committees on prisoners, security, and elections. The committees will begin meetings on 10 March and issue reports by the end of the month.

The question, however, is whether the leaderships of the Palestinian factions will act on those reports. On the surface, this appears to be an immediate victory for Hamas, which did not want any quick pronouncement on the make-up of a Palestinian Government. They now have time to manoeuvre, building on the upswell of support from the Gaza War, while Fatah and the Palestinian Authority scramble to recover their position.

The Latest from Israel-Gaza-Palestine (26 February): The Cairo Talks


Afternoon Update (3:25 p.m. GMT): US envoy George Mitchell has embarked on his second tour of the Middle East, meeting Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in separate meetings. 

Earlier, Mitchell was in Ankara to ensure Turkish leaders, who had criticised Israel over its conduct in the Gaza War, were on board: "Turkey is a crucial ally of the United States and an important force for peace and security in the Middle East."

This is almost a daily ritual. Two rockets fired into Israel; Israel strikes smuggling tunnels around Rafah.

Morning Update (11 a.m. GMT; 1 p.m. Israel/Palestine): The Palestinian "reconciliation" talks, involving a dozen groups but with most attention focused on Hamas and Fatah, have opened in Cairo. Egypt, after the failure of its strategy in the Gaza conflict is hoping to recover a prime position in the region with a successful outcome; its head of intelligence, Omar Suleiman (pictured), told delegates,
Everyone is looking toward you ... and hanging their hopes on you. So do not prolong the disagreement and deepen the division. Unite ranks to fulfill the hopes of all for an independent Palestinian state.

Fatah, with the Palestinian Authority's legal and political mandate in the West Bank in jeopardy, is pressing for a quick agreement on a new Palestinian government; Hamas is signalling that it will seek a longer process.

Meanwhile, in Israel, it appears that any prospect of a coaltion government of Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and Kadima, led by Tzipi Livni, has been doomed over differences on a two-state Israel-Palestine solution. Livni is insisting on a clear settlement; Netanyahu is holding out against it. Former foreign minister and Likud negotiator Silvan Shalom told Army Radio:
There is across-the-board agreement on Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas but there is a big gap between Kadima and Likud on the two states for two people. It's unsolvable.

Latest from Israel-Gaza-Palestine (25 February): Netanyahu Searches for a Coalition

Related Post: Virtual Gaza - Breaking the Information Blockade


Evening Update (5 p.m. GMT): Hamas and Fatah representatives have met in Cairo in advance of Thursday's "reconcilation" meeting of a dozen Palestinian groups. Ezzat al-Rishq, a member of the Hamas delegation, said, "There was a positive and promising atmosphere at ... today's session."

Afternoon Update (12 noon GMT): Israel, responding to the firing of two rockets from Gaza this morning, has struck tunnels near Rafah.

As Hamas and Fatah delegations prepare for "reconciliation" meetings in Cairo, Fatah has released 40 "security prisoners" (or, in Hamas' eyes, "political detainees").

State Department officials have said US envoy George Mitchell and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will press Israel to allow aid shipments into Gaza on their trips to the Middle East in forthcoming days:
Israel is not making enough efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The US expects Israel to meet its commitments on this matter.

Israeli spokesmen are denying receiving any critical messages from Washington.

Two Qassam rockets landed in southern Israel this morning.

Morning Update (8:45 a.m. GMT; 10:45 a.m. Israel/Palestine): Having failed to get agreement with Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and Labor leader Ehud Barak on a possible coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud turns again to "right-wing" parties today. He will meet Israel-Beitenu's Avigdor Lieberman, third in the recent elections, and smaller political factions.

Israel-Gaza-Palestine Alerts (23 February): Amnesty Criticises Israel and Hamas, Calls for Arms Embargo

Related Post: Has the Obama Administration Brought Hamas into A Palestine Unity Government?
Related Post: Text of the Amnesty International Report


Evening Update (8:30 p.m. GMT): Even as the Obama Administration opens up the possibility of accepting Hamas in a Palestinian government (and thus meaningful truce talks with Israel), it is trying to keep up pressure on the Gazan leadership and re-insert Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. US officials said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce more than $900 million in aid 0f at a donors' conference next week, however, ""This money is for Gaza and to help strengthen the Palestinian Authority. It is not going to go to Hamas."

Afternoon Update (3:15 p.m. GMT): Ehud Barak, leader of the Israeli Labor Party, has rejected Benjamin Netanyahu's offer to join a coalition government. The two had met this morning to discuss possible terms.

Egyptian authorities, despite the limited opening of the Rafah crossing, are blocking the movement of most Gazans. Among those refused exit from Gaza was photojournalist Sameh Habeeb, whom we have featured on Enduring America. Habeeb was travelling to Europe for a speaking tour.

7 a.m. GMT (9 a.m. Israel/Palestine): Amnesty International has released a report on the misuse of US weapons by Israeli forces during the Gaza war, calling on the United Nations to launch an investigation:
Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes. Their attacks resulted in the death of hundreds of children and other civilians, and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure.

Amnesty also asked the UN to consider Hamas rocket attacks as a war crime.

Israel Radio reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has suspended Amos Gilad, his envoy to the Egypt-brokered talks with Hamas. As we reported last week, Gilad had criticised the Olmert Government over its "inconsistent" position, notably its insistence on the pre-condition of a prisoner swap including Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Olmert has also asked the Civil Service Commission to check if his envoy's published remarks amounted to insubordination.

After their meeting Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni, the leaders of the top two parties in this month's Israeli elections, have agreed to further talks on a Government coalition, although Livni said "substantial differences" remained.

Has the Obama Administration Brought Hamas into A Palestine Unity Government?

Last Thursday George Mitchell, the US envoy in the Middle East, in a conference calls with Jewish-American leaders, stated the full support of the Obama Administration for a Palestinian unity government. That in itself is a long-standing American policy; what was significant was that Mitchell indicated the unity government could include not only Fatah, the party behind the Palestianian Authority, but also Hamas.

The timing of Mitchell’s intervention was even more important. As of last Thursday, Egypt’s efforts to bring Fatah and Hamas together in “reconciliation” talks, scheduled for 22 February, appeared to be going nowhere. Although Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas had praised Cairo’s initiative but Hamas had refused unless the Palestinian Authority released its members from jails in the West Bank. This weekend, after Mitchell’s statement was widely publicised by the Obama Administration (and after British and French delegations had met with Hamas representatives in Beirut and Damascus and after three US Congressmen visited Gaza), Egypt was able to announce that the talks would proceed on Wednesday.

Of course, Mitchell continued to emphasise the long-standing conditions of the “Quartet” of the US-European Union-United Nations-Russia for Hamas’ political participation: halting violence, recognizing Israel, and accepting previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements. But these demands have already been accepted, at least in their rhetoric, by the officials of Hamas, as the organisation moves away from its 1988 Charter. What has been needed, given the double standards applied to Israeli behaviour and that of Hamas, has been some sign of goodwill which would permit legitimacy for the Hamas leadership.

It is unclear what that sign, for Mitchell, was. On the surface, there was no need to recognise a “victorious” Hamas, because the party has been weakened by the Gazan conflict. While Hamas was not defeated militarily by Israel or even significantly damaged, and while it has had a short-term political boost --- especially compared with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority --- as the defender of Palestinians, it cannot turn this to a decisive advantage against Tel Aviv, as Hezbollah did in the Lebanon War in 2006. Politically, with its ostracism by the West, it still lacks the image of an established “authority”, in contrast to that given to the Palestine Liberation Organization from the 1980s.

However, Hamas’ inability to project “victory” --- at least to the West and Israel, if not its own people --- may have actually worked to its advantage and brought Mitchell’s signal. Because the group might be represented as needing to moderate its views in order to get any role in the peace process, the Obama Administration can contain the notion of Hamas as imminent threat to a new Israeli Government.

Indeed, with Israel itself in transition, Mitchell could put the challenge to Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu rather than Khaled Meshaal or Ismail Haniya: “Form a government that is ready for dialogue and cooperation in solving the Palestinian-Israeli problem.”

So the hand has been extended, very indirectly and at a distance but still extended, to Hamas by Obama. The 44th President of the United States of America, unlike his predecessor, has given priority to an meaningful peace process rather than the rigid mantra of “Israeli security”. If Hamas got the second of its nine lives through survival in the Gaza War, it now has a third political life. Whether that continues may be conditioned on whether it can find some consensus with Fatah now.