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Livni Promises To ‘Maintain Maximum Settlers’

Tzipi Livni and Binyamin Netanyahu, partners for peace:

Likud Party Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said he would not be bound by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s commitments to evacuate West Bank settlements and withdraw from the territories.

“I will not keep Olmert’s commitments to withdraw and I won’t evacuate settlements. Those understandings are invalid and unimportant,” Netanyahu said.[…]

After Netanyahu and senior Likud officials blasted Olmert and Livni’s “promises” and accused Livni of agreeing to divide Jerusalem, she was forced to disassociate herself from the understandings.

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“I will advance only an agreement that represents our interests. Maintaining maximum settlers and places that we hold dear such as Jerusalem — not a single refugee will enter,” Livni said. […]

[Netanyahu] said he would invite Kadima and all the Zionist parties to join his coalition providing they agree to his guidelines — no division of Jerusalem, no return to 1967 borders.

When leaders of competing Palestinian factions make maximalist claims to appeal to hardline constituencies, it’s extremism. But when Israeli leaders do it, it’s politics. If the goal of the U.S. and Israel is to strengthen Palestinian moderates like Abu Mazen against Hamas — and people keep telling me that’s the goal — it’s hard to see how this helps.