Ending the Palestinian conflict would make it easier for Israel to form an
alliance against Iran with moderate Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Justice
Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday as she spoke at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic
Conference in Herzliya.
“When you hear the Saudis talk about what needs
to be done to prevent [a nuclear] Iran, it sounds familiar,” said Livni. “I
think that you can hear that Arabic sounds familiar to Hebrew when it comes to
Moderate Arab regimes share Israel’s concerns with regard to Iran
and also want to see the United States and the international community uphold
stiff sanctions against Tehran, Livni said.
She spoke on the same day
that The New York Times published an article that reported that Saudi Arabia
shared Israel’s policy concerns in the Middle East, specifically on Iran. It
added that Saudi Arabia had privately voiced its objections to the US’s current
stance on Iran, Syria and Egypt.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia
clarified that the Arab League’s peace plan – which offers Israel normalized
relations with 57 countries – is still on the table.
“In order to prevent
Iran from having a nuclear weapon, we need to cooperate with those [countries that understand] that Iran is a threat to them as well,”
Livni said. “But unfortunately, the open conflict between Israel and the
Palestinians makes it impossible, or very difficult, for them to act with Israel
against Iran, when it comes to public opinion in their own state [where] Israel
is still the enemy.”
Livni repeated the Israeli position that the
international community must continue to economically pressure Iran until it
complies with UN Security Council resolutions that call for it to dismantle its
nuclear weapons program.
However, she noted that it is also important to
leave a credible military threat on the table.
Israel, she said, is in
the midst of two conflicts, one with Iran and the other with the Palestinians,
and Israel needs to act in parallel on both fronts. She said that Israel needs
to continue putting the pressure on Iran while also moving forward on the peace
The danger of a nuclear Iran poses an additional reason why
Israel has to end its conflict with the Palestinians, according to Livni, who is
in charge of the negotiations during the renewed nine-month peace process that
began at the end of July.
The negotiations deal with all core issues,
Livni said. Discussions on those issues are happening in parallel, rather than
one at a time, she added.
“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,”
Livni said. Once that happens, each leader will present the final conclusions to
their people, she said.
While negotiators have agreed not to discuss the
content of the talks, Livni clarified that Israel is holding fast to a number of
its core concerns: that its security needs must be met – though she did not
specify what those needs are – and that Palestinian refugees will not return to
A two-state solution means that just as Israel is the answer to
the national aspirations of the Jewish people, a Palestinian state answers the
national aspirations of the Palestinian people, the justice minister
The creation of a Palestinian state is the answer “for those
[Palestinians] who live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, those who live in
refugee camps with keys around their neck,” Livni said.
said, Israeli Arabs would live with equal individual rights in Israel, but their
national aspirations could only be realized by a Palestinian state in the West
Bank and Gaza.
Livni acknowledged the need to maintain Israel’s security,
saying, “We are not going to throw the keys to the other side of the border and
hope for the best.”
But the pursuit of peace is not merely a naïve quest
or something “nice,” Livni said.
A two-state solution to the conflict
with the Palestinians is essential to Israel’s security, to its economy and to
its remaining a Jewish and democratic state in the future, Livni
When it comes to Israel’s security, a powerful army is not
enough, she said.
“We have the force and the power but in order to use
this power we need the legitimacy to act,” Livni said.
Failure to arrive
at a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians would isolate Israel on the
international stage and delegitimize it, Livni warned.
stagnation is something that creates delegitimization of the State of Israel and
our ability to act against our enemies,” she said. “We are not and we do not
want to be an isolated island.”
Livni said she supported an ideological
debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But what really bothers her, she
said, is that the opponents of a two-state solution have failed to put forward a
legitimate alternative that is consistent with Jewish values and that would
allow Israel to continue its relations with the international
She warned that failure to finalize an agreement with the
Palestinians puts Israel at risk of having an unfavorable solution imposed upon
There are only two options facing Israel, she said, a onestate
solution or a two-state solution, and only a two-state solution ensures a Jewish
and democratic state. She noted that the goal of the ninemonth negotiating
process begun almost three months ago is a final-status agreement to end all
claims by both sides.
At some point, Livni said, a final decision has to
be made with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Part of my
responsibility is to say, ‘Enough is enough. We need to make these decisions,’”