The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Bibi's First Step Takes Him Toward the Left

Ahead of Obama’s first trip to the Jewish state as President, a famous peace process dove has joined Israel’s new government. Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni, who campaigned on reviving peace talks and unseating Netanyahu, is Israel’s new Justice Minister and head of future peace talks with the Palestinians. The FT reports:

The appointment of the former foreign minister will strengthen Mr Netanyahu’s credibility as he seeks to build a broad-based “national unity” coalition of rightwing and other parties with a big enough majority to tackle a worsening fiscal crisis and pressing regional security issues. These include growing chaos in Syria and concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme. […]

“Today Israel extends its hand once more for peace,” [Netanyahu] said on Tuesday. “We want a peace process and we hope that it will yield results.”

It’s still too early to know what the new government will look like, but bringing Livni into the governing coalition was something many of Netanyahu’s critics wanted him to do in the last Knesset. Her party is weaker now, so she can expect less say in policy, but giving her a leading role in negotiations with the Palestinians can contribute to better relations between Jerusalem and Washington.

[Image courtesy of World Economic Forum]

Published on February 21, 2013 9:00 am