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Livni takes on Israel's image as new TAU researcher
By GIL HOFFMAN
21/08/2012
Former FM tells 'Post' her work at the Institute for National Security Studies will seek to improve Israel's image abroad.
 
Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni is back working on how best to present the Jewish state to the world in her first job following her May 1 departure from politics.

Livni started working last month as a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. She is heading a project on Israel’s international stature.

The job involves working with the INSS experts, organizing conferences, and writing articles in addition to the work on the research project.

“We all know that the delegitimizing of Israel internationally harms the country and restrains our military operations,” Livni told The Jerusalem Post.

“The more legitimacy you have, the easier it is to be able to carry out necessary operations. It must be recognized that this is part of Israel's national security,” she said.

Livni cited the criticism Israel received around the world for the May 2011 Mavi Marmara operation as an example.

She said the basis for Israel as a Jewish and democratic state that is seen as obvious by Israelis was less clear abroad, but that Israel’s main problems internationally were related to the policies of its governments.

“The continuation of the conflict with Palestinians has the biggest impact on Israel’s image abroad,” she said. “The less the diplomatic process advances, the more isolated Israel is from the world.”

The study will compare how Israel is perceived in the United States, Europe, and Asia. She said her team’s work could complement efforts by the Foreign Ministry.

“We want to see what could be done to improve Israel’s image using modern technology and social networks,” she said. “It’s an important issue and I have experience in this matter. I don’t see it as a theoretical project. It is work that could already be implemented.”

Even though she holds no elected office now, Livni was in the US last week, meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon and giving interviews to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and other top American journalists.

Think tanks are often used as temporary jobs by Democratic and Republican politicians between elections and administrations.

Israeli politicians have recently followed that trend, including current Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon, who worked at the Right-wing Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

But a source close to Livni said the trend was “not an indication” that Livni was on her way back to politics. Livni and her associates would not comment on reports that she is working behind the scenes on forming a new party with former Kadima council chairman Haim Ramon that will run in the next election.

“The fact that she chose to join the team at INSS illustrates INSS’s position as Israel’s premier strategic think tank,” a spokeswoman for the institute said.
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