Officials in Israel have launched a strong attack against Justice Minister Tzipi Livni for hinting that the government may be willing to give up the demand for Palestinian recognition of the "Jewish State" as a precondition for a return to negotiations. Livni has been put in charge of negotiations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The leader of the governing coalition and Knesset member for Likud, Yariv Levin, said that Livni does not reflect the government's official point of view on this matter. "Israel as a Jewish state is the basis of all negotiations and settlements," he insisted. "It is an unequivocal demand that is considered to be binding to all parties of the coalition of the government in Israel." Levin called on all members of the coalition to "show more responsibility and adhere to the principles that allow Israel to achieve its demands in any future negotiations".
Livni's statement also came under fire from the Deputy Minister of Transportation, Tzipi Ahtpola. "The Prime Minister of Israel is the only one who decides on the policy of the government and determines the conditions for negotiations with the Palestinians," she said. "Any idea which opposes this framework would be a gift to those who reject peace."
According to the Minister of Construction and Housing, Uri Ariel, of the far-right Jewish Home Party, "Livni's words demonstrate a total disregard for the government's decisions and policies." He noted that the Palestinians have to acknowledge the requirement to recognise the Jewish nature of the state. "How can we conduct negotiations with those who do not recognise our existence?" asked Ariel. "It was silly talk by a minister."