Gideon Israel
Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center

Tzippi Livni and the Peace Obsession

Tzippi Livni, Foreign Minister of Israel in 2008, is sitting around the negotiating table with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and President Mahmoud Abbas.

Livni: Saeb, I need to have a list of your demands so we can finally sign a peace agreement.

Saeb: Okay, okay. We have told you that we want all of West Bank; we are willing to concede big settlements for land swaps.

Livni:  I can do that.

Abbas: West Bank includes Jerusalem – all of Jerusalem.

Livni:  I cannot give you all of Jerusalem.  That’s absurd! I can give you all of East Jerusalem, most of the old city, the temple mount.  But how can you expect me to give up areas like Katamon and Givaat Ram! Ridiculous! I won’t do that.

Saeb: We understand.  Maybe instead of all of Jerusalem, you build us international airport in Ramallah.

Livni:  That sounds fair.  So we have a deal?  I can prepare the agreement

Abbas: I think this is fair.

(About to get up from the table)

Saeb: Wait, Abu Mazen, what about water aquifers in West Bank.

Abbas: Ah yes, we need to have water, Palestinian people must drink!

Livni: ok, we’ll give you the aquifers, but we need to stipulate that should Israel have a shortage of water, you will let us use them.

Saeb and Abbas (smiling):  Of course, if you need help you can trust the Palestinian leadership.  We are neighbors!

Livni: This sounds great.  I’ll prepare the agreement with the Foreign Ministry legal team.

Abbas: Of course, but what about connecting West Bank to Gaza.  How will Palestinians be able to travel?

Livni: You have an airport, use it!

Saeb: Tzippi, you must understand Palestinians are not rich like Israelis, not everyone can afford a plane ticket to travel to Gaza.  We cannot sign an agreement if our citizens can’t travel to parts of the homeland! I’m sorry.

Livni: (runs her hands through her hair) Okay.  We’ll work on the safe passage, a bridge or maybe a tunnel.  You can build a bridge.

Saeb: Okay, we are satisfied now.  Prepare the agreement.

Livni: Excellent!

Abbas: But wait we can’t pay for a bridge.  We have no money!

Livni: Mahmoud, you are running country and with it comes responsibilities, find the money.

Saeb: Tzippi, you are being unreasonable.  We have lived under occupation since 1967, we haven’t had the capabilities to develop our businesses like Israel.  You are being unfair and racist!

Livni: Racist?

Abbas: Yes! Racist and fascist!

Livni: Okay, we’ll fund the bridge, if that’s your last demand.

Saeb: Yes, we are satisfied. I think you can prepare the agreement.

Livni: I’ll do that.

Abbas: Tzippi, I have one more question.  How will the Palestinians export their goods?

Tzippi:  They can use the Gaza ports and bring them via the bridge connecting Gaza to the West Bank.

Saeb: Tzippi, how can a farmer from Jenin go all the way to Gaza, it is far away.  The export fees will be too much.  The cost of moving the goods hundreds of miles, Palestinian businessman and farmers will go broke.

Livni: Well, I’m not sure what you want from me.

Abbas:  Tzippi, we need Israel to build us a seaport, maybe near Hadera.  Without this the Palestinian economy will collapse and then they will blame Israel.

Tzippi: Ummm

Saeb:  Tzippi, you must be reasonable.  The Palestinians have suffered so much and all we are asking for is a little seaport so the Palestinians can support their families.

Tzippi:  Well…

Abbas: Tzippi, this is wrong, you are acting like a fascist, just like the Germans 70 years ago.

Tzippi:  Alright, alright.  I get your point.  You can have the port.

Saeb: Israel will build it, of course.

Tzippi: But…fine if we have a deal, then we will build it.

Abbas: Absolutely.

Tzippi: I’ll process this.  It’s late I need to get back to the Foreign Ministry.

Livni gets up to leave.

Saeb:  You are a very fair person.  I’m happy we are finally signing an agreement.

Livni (smiling): We have peace!

Abbas:  Tzippi, we will work out the refugee problem later.

Livni: I thought we were finished – we have an agreement?!

Saeb: It goes without saying that we can’t give up on the refugees.  They were thrown out of their homeland 60 years ago.  They must return.

Livni: The refugees cannot return that will destroy Israel!

Abbas:  They must receive compensation and at least some must receive the right of return.

Livni: This is becoming outrageous.

Saeb: How dare you say outrageous! You are outrageous! All we have asked for is a small part of land that is ours anyway.  You have given us nothing.  And we should give up on the refugees!

Livni: Ok. I understand your point.  Let’s work this problem out if it’s the final issue.

Abbas: This is the last issue.

Livni: How many refugees?  How much compensation?

Saeb: We want…

Livni’s phone rings

Livni: Allo

Olmert: There has just been a massive rocket attack on Israel, negotiations are off.

Livni: But we are so close to an agreement, we have one more detail…

Olmert: Negotiations are off!! Bye!

Livni looks at Erekat and Abbas:  I am sorry I have to go.

Fast forward to the Israeli elections in 2013, Tzippi Livni is speaking at a press conference announcing her new party Ha’tnuah:  I know we can reach peace, because I sat at the negotiating table.  I know how close we were to an agreement when I was Foreign Minister and therefore my party’s central platform will be to reach an agreement.  I know it can be reached.  I was there.


About the Author
Gideon Israel is the Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center which focuses on strengthening US-Israel relations through mutually beneficial policy projects.