Livni defends decision not to join Netanyahu coalition

By Stephen Pollard, February 4, 2010

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni has defended her decision not to join the coalition led by Binyamin Netanyahu.

“I could not join a government that is endangering Israeli security by failing to negotiate with the Palestinians.”

She said that the blame for the lack of talks lay with Mr Netanyahu.

“It is a matter of trust. Words are not enough. Palestinians do not see actions.”

The need for talks was urgent, she said, but Mr Netanyahu was not taking sufficient measures to build trust with the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu is not building trust with the PA

But she said that she did not rule out joining the government.

“It is not ideological, it is practical. If I see Netanyahu taking the right decisions then of course I will do everything I can to help. I will be there.”

Asked about the current leadership fight within Kadima, with former defence minister and IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz pushing for a leadership election, Ms Livni said there was no need for any vote.

“I won the election just over a year ago, defeating Mr Mofaz. Under my leadership, Kadima won the most seats in the Knesset last year. There is no need for any election. My mandate is clear.”

Mr Mofaz said that there had been “a lack of leadership within Kadima” and that Ms Livni had made “big mistakes... it was a mistake not to be part of the coalition.”

He accused Ms Livni of betraying the party’s “centre-right roots” by “moving centre-left”. When asked about Ms Livni’s dismissal of the need for a leadership election, Mr Mofaz said: “I believe that we will agree about a primary. She will agree that we need to keep Kadima unified.”

Last updated: 6:33pm, February 4 2010