Ms. Tzipi Livini has served in 8 separate cabinet positions including Minister of Justice and former Minister of Foreign Affairs (01-09). She is a Member of the Knesset and is the current leader of the Zionist Union party. She is one of, if not the, leading proponents of the 2 state solution in Israeli politics (Wikipedia page here).
My notes attempt to summarize her remarks from her meeting with us last night. Note that these are my notes, not quotes, and they are not 100% accurate. However, they do capture my understanding of her remarks.
Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is very difficult for many reasons. From a political standpoint it is a political suicide wish on both sides. And we know that most politicians are more interested in maintaining their political careers rather than peace. Add to that the issue of timing – Palestinians and Israelis have bad timing, we keep missing each other.
We went pretty far down the road with the Oslo Accords, but we were unable to deal with some core issues. I worked hard with Condoleezza Rice to convince her on the merits of the concept 2 states for 2 peoples. It had become clear to us that we would not be able to maintain a Jewish state with Jews eventually being a minority of the Israeli population. And President Bush made 2 states for 2 peoples US policy. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Likud party cannot conceive of a Palestinian state. I fear that in the end, things will turn out very bloody, much like what happened in the former Yugoslavia. Why wouldn’t we split the territory to keep that from happening.
In my very first conversations with Palestinians on the 2 state solution, it became very clear to me that each side needs to keep its narrative. We were discussing the need for security for Israel, and they wanted armaments. They said this was a matter of state sovereignty. I asked, is Egypt a well-respected Arab country even though the Sinai is non-militarized. You could be like Egypt and Germany and Japan, also well-respected non-militarized states. I laid out a plan – step 1, we agree to a Palestinian state; step 2 Palestine agrees to be non-militarized. You do step two and you get step one. But my fear now is that the opportunity for peace has passed.
We know that Hamas does not want to make peace because they don’t believe Israel should exist. But if Mahmoud Abbas says he is willing to sign something, why wouldn’t we do that?
I am confused about the reaction to President Trump’s remarks about Jerusalem. It’s been our capital since 1948, and I will not go against the President recognizing my country’s capital. This is the truth on the ground. We get to decide where our capital is, as do the Palestinians. For me, the question is what do we do now? We should go ahead and reach the ultimate deal. But President Trump says the US supports 2 states if that what the two sides want. This is a mistake, as it gives politicians on both sides the room to say that’s not what we want.