Israel’s justice minister — Tzipi Livni — a former foreign minister who is not in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s party and is considered more “to the Left” than almost all her cabinet colleagues — is negotiating on behalf of Israel, starting Monday evening, in “talks about talks” in Washington. They are indeed the first face-to-face negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in several years, but they are not yet fully fledged peace talks.
Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, who is very close to Netanyahu, will be facing two Palestinian men, and they share the task of agreeing on how best to begin serious negotiations.
Just before leaving Israel from Ben-Gurion Airport, Livni posted her thoughts on Facebook. Here is our translation, provided so that non-Israeli readers can get a sense of what she is thinking.
“The cabinet today decided to open negotiations with the Palestinians. This is an important decision to our future. I don’t know if it’s a historic decision (that will become clear in the future), but if the cabinet had not approved the opening of negotiations, then that might’ve been an historic missing of an opportunity.
In our decision today there is pain. A lot of pain. We decided today on the release of murderous prisoners who are serving long years in prison — and justly! This was one of the most difficult decisions that an elected official has to make. One of the hardest I’ve made.
In the past and also now, I say to bereaved [Israeli] families that I, to the extent possible, understand their pain. But I say also that Israel has — in the past — released murderers when we had a gun at our head, handing them over at the demand of terrorist organizations.
Today we decided to release them, but only after the start of negotiations — during the talks, and only if they are clearly serious. … Because without a diplomatic process, and without negotiations and without difficult decisions, there cannot be peace.
The start of the process is in our security and strategic interests as a state, as a Jewish people. For my part, I pledge to act with responsibility and in the name of all Israeli citizens — and to guard, in the negotiation room, our security and Jewish-democratic interests. That is my task, and it’s the reason I joined the coalition.”