Livni: We must negotiate wisely with neighbors

In first diplomatic address as Kadima leader, FM warns Iran "is not only Israel's problem."

October 5, 2008 18:39
3 minute read.
Livni: We must negotiate wisely with neighbors

livni speaks 224 88. (photo credit: Channel 10)


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Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in her first foreign policy address since winning the Kadima primary last month, took veiled issue on Sunday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Rosh Hashana interview calling on Israel to cede nearly all of the territories won in the Six Day War. "We have passed the stage where we have to prove that Israel wants peace with everyone," Livni said at the Foreign Ministry's Conference for Policy and Strategy. "Israel wants to reach peace with all its neighbors, including Syria. Lebanon and the Palestinians." She said Israel had proven this through entering numerous peace negotiations, and by leaving the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, in an apparent criticism of Olmert, she said the issue was not only for Israel to talk about what concessions would need to be made, "but we have an additional responsibility, to run this process correctly. The State of Israel dreams of peace, but its feet are planted in a reality that is not simple." Olmert said in an interview with Yediot Aharonot last week that for peace Israel would have to withdraw from almost the entire West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Speaking to an audience that included French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, former German foreign minister Joshka Fischer and new US Ambassador James Cunningham, Livni said she hoped that the international community would understand the region's complex reality. The diplomatic process must continue, but there must be a fundamental change of reality on the ground, she said. "Let us not let random dates or political changes stand in our way, or stop a process which is very important, or - on the other hand - lead us to places that will not lead to an end to the conflict, but rather to increasing the enmity," Livni said, in an apparent response to voices calling for Israel and the Palestinians to produce something by the end of the year, as pledged last November in Annapolis. Livni made it clear she was completely opposed to any partial agreement, either of the type the US had indicated an interest in - an interim agreement before the end of the year - or the kind that Olmert had proposed, dealing with all issues except for Jerusalem. Livni also made clear that part of looking reality in the face was realizing that not only was Iran a threat to Israel, the region and the entire international community, but that it was also preventing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As long as such an extremist ideology dominated Iran, it would not be possible to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she said. And even if it were possible to solve that conflict, Livni said, the extremist ideology in Iran would still exist. This ideology was not dependent on what happened in Israel, she said, adding that the international community had to act with a determination that did not currently exist to stop the Iranian threat. Livni, in laying out her diplomatic philosophy, said she believed in diplomatic activism, and that doing nothing "has a price." When Israel does not make decisions, she says, "the world doesn't wait, processes continue." Malki, in his address, bemoaned the continued settlement activity, and said the Palestinians were losing hope that something tangible might come of the Annapolis process by the end of 2008. Likewise, he said, some Palestinians, though not the leadership of the PA, were losing faith in a two-state solution. Malki said it was critical for the negotiations to move "from process to substance," and to be connected to a time frame. He said that if the PA failed to produce results from the Annapolis process, it would weaken its leadership because Hamas wanted to use the lack of tangible results to show that the diplomatic process was worthless. He said the Palestinians must see the "dividends of peace," or they would lose hope in the process. Kouchner, who along with Fischer stressed that the fact that Germany and France were at peace after centuries of war and hatred gave him hope that a solution could be found here as well, said he believed that Livni - whom he said it was not always easy to work with - would be a prime minister who would lead to peace "and a Palestinian state."

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