Livni stresses Iran threat, calls for peace talks at AIPAC parley

Kadima leader devotes most of her address to the need to combat Israel’s delegitimization in the int’l community.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPOND
March 23, 2010 04:20
3 minute read.
Kadima head Tzipi Livni.

Livni 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

WASHINGTON – Opposition leader Tzipi Livni stressed the urgency of confronting Iran as well as pushing for Israeli-Palestinian peace at an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday.

“There is a need to bring sanctions today. Time is of the essence,” Livni said to applause, taking the world to task for not taking more aggressive action on Iran. “We cannot wait anymore.”

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She called for the international community to isolate Iran diplomatically, eliciting laughter when she suggested that they be treated like recalcitrant children and be told, “Stay in your room until you learn to behave.”

Though Livni opened her remarks by saying it was neither the time nor place for airing Israeli political disagreements, she formed a contrast with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with the emphasis she placed on the need to abandon the dream of Greater Israel and the urgency of reconciliation with the Palestinians in order to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.

“There’s a need to reach an agreement that ends the conflict,” she said. “It’s needed to implement the Zionist vision.”

She devoted most of her address, however, to the need to combat the delegitimization of Israel in the international community.

Noting the arrest warrant she was threatened with in England, she related that she told the authorities she was ready to take the risk.

“I’m willing to make my case the test case of fight of the free world against terror,” she said to a standing ovation, adding that once she made the offer the warrant was rescinded.

Livni described the Goldstone Report, a UN-backed investigation accusing Israel and Hamas of war crimes in the 2009 Gaza war, as another attack on Israel’s very existence that needed redress.

“It’s anti-Semitic ideas plus delegitimizing the State of Israel plus delegitimizing the right of Israel to defend itself,” she said.

On Sunday’s afternoon plenary at the AIPAC conference, prominent lawyer Alan Dershowitz also took aim at the Goldstone Report for delegitimizing Israel, but made some of his most critical points in response to recent assessments from top US Gen. David Petraeus that Israel’s fraught relations with its neighbors complicate American security interests in the region.

“It is an ironic and insidious argument,” he said, given that Israel aids American security efforts and never asks for US soldiers to protect the country. “It is an entirely false argument factually.”

He also warned, “This argument has become a powerful weapon for those who seek to demonize Israel.”

Dershowitz on Monday continued to press his perspective when he approached J Street, the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby which has taken issue with many of AIPAC’s positions, on the sidelines of the policy conference.

The heated discussion quickly attracted the attention of surrounding delegates and members of the media, to the chagrin of AIPAC’s press staff. They broke up the conversation and revoked the press credentials of two European TV journalists who had filmed the encounter.

The AIPAC press office also found itself at the center of a hoax email, sent out ahead of Clinton’s speech Monday morning declaring that the organization was calling on the Israeli government to freeze settlements, including in east Jerusalem.

The press statement, which came from the email of spokesman Josh Block and followed the format of authentic AIPAC releases, was picked up by several media outlets, including NPR and ABC News, before AIPAC was able to clarify that it had been subject to a hoax.


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