Main Israeli negotiators

Key Israeli politicians and negotiators featuring in The Palestine Papers

    Tzipi Livni

    Role: Former Israeli foreign minister; current opposition leader and head of Kadima party


    Livni has served in the Knesset (Israeli parliament)since 1999. She has held a variety of cabinet posts, including stints as housing minister, agriculture minister and justice minister.

    She was the foreign minister and Israel's lead negotiator during the key years covered by The Palestine Papers. She represented the Israeli government during dozens of meetings before and after the Annapolis conference, usually appearing with Tal Becker, her senior adviser.

    Livni lost her post as foreign minister in 2009; her Kadima party won the most seats in Israel's parliamentary elections, but failed to assemble a governing coalition. She has been serving as Israel's opposition leader since then.

    Livni was born in Tel Aviv. She served for a time in Israel's Mossad spy agency, then left to attend law school; she practiced commercial law for a decade before entering politics.

    Ehud Olmert

    Role: Former Israeli prime minister 


    Olmert was the prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, when many of the key events described in the Palestine Papers took place. He spent much of his professional career in politics: Olmert was first elected to the Knesset in 1973 and remained a member for 20 years, rising through the ranks of the Likud party. He then served two terms as the mayor of Jerusalem before returning to the Knesset in 2003 and assuming the post of prime minister in 2006.

    His domestic popularity remained quite low for much of his time as prime minister. His handling of the 2006 Lebanon war was deeply unpopular in Israel; tens of thousands of people staged a rally in 2007 to demand his resignation. He was also dogged by persistent allegations of corruption, for which he was eventually indicted after leaving office.

    Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, was Israel's main negotiator during Olmert’s time in office. Olmert himself appears in only a handful of these documents, mostly in notes preceding or following his one-on-one meetings with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

    Udi Dekel

    Role: Former head of the Israeli Negotiations Unit under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert


    Dekel worked in the Prime Minister's Office to co-ordinate the work of the negotiation team.

    He helped with the formation of Israel's positions in the talks and took part in several rounds of talks on a final status agreement. Before his assignment to the Olmert Administration as head of staff, Dekel served as the head of the Israel Defence Forces Strategic Planning Division.

    After his tenure at the prime minister's office, he was highly critical of the negotiating tactics of Olmert and Livni in their dealings with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and Ahmed Qurei, the head of Abbas' negotiating team.

    The Palestine Papers reveal that Dekel has been trying to shift the 1967 borders as a baseline for the negotiations, due to new "facts on the ground" that were created as an answer to a "terror war" that was launched by the Palestinians.

    Amos Gilad

    Role: Former head of the Israeli defence ministry's political-security branch and Israel's caretaker co-ordinator in the occupied territories.


    Gilad was said to enjoy more influence over Israeli government policy than many of those who outranked him in the government hierarchy.

    Before his appointment at the defence ministry, he served as the director of the research division of the Israeli army's intelligence branch and also as army spokesman.

    In his side role as Israel's special envoy to Egypt, he was also intimately involved in talks over the fate of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He was briefly suspended from that position in February 2009 after he criticised Olmert, claiming that the prime minister was hindering efforts to free Shalit.

    The Palestine Papers show that Gilad, who continues to serve the Israeli government as an adviser to Ehud Barak, the defence minister, held multiple conversations with Palestinian Authority negotiators on the situation in Gaza prior to the 2008-2009 war.

    Tal Becker

    Role: Senior adviser to Tzipi Livni


    Becker was Tzipi Livni’s senior policy adviser from 2006 through 2009, and almost always accompanied her to meetings with Palestinian negotiators.

    Becker is a lawyer who spent much of his career working for the Israeli government: He is a former lawyer at the Israeli mission to the United Nations, and a former director of the international law department at the Israeli foreign ministry. He was involved in negotiations during both the Oslo Accords and the Camp David summit.

    Becker speaks far less often than Livni in the Palestine Papers, and his comments are usually clarifications – interpretations of international law, or details from past negotiations. The documents give the impression of an influential behind-the-scenes figure with a limited "public" role in meetings with Palestinians.

    He does occasionally weigh in on substantive issues, discussing at one point the need for two states: "Divided. All Israeli. All Palestinian," he said.

    Tal Becker was born in France, but spent most of his childhood in Australia.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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