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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Events in Lebanon would be a test case for Israel's desire to engage in multilateral diplomacy in the future, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday night as she welcomed NATO Deputy Secretary-General Ambassador Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo.
Livni mentioned the phrase "multilateral diplomacy" three times in her address to a conference on the transformation of NATO and NATO-Israel relations organized by the Institute for Policy and Strategy, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.
Israel in NATO? (Opinion, Oct. 4)
"Israel has always been self-reliant but also believes in international cooperation. A multilateral approach has its advantages and disadvantages, and Lebanon will be a test case for the multilateral approach. Israel should be more engaged in global and Western institutions. The alliance between NATO and Israel is a natural alliance. Israel is the one and only successful democracy in the Middle East and cooperation with NATO is part of Israel's growing multilateral diplomacy," Livni said.
She added that the goal of the recent conflict in Lebanon was to create a regime in Lebanon which would be responsible for its entire territory.
"NATO can lead the way in facing new threats from Islamic radicalism and nuclear proliferation, to defend the values of the free world. These threats that face us threaten human society as we think it should be," she said.
Referring to Iran, Livni said that Teheran's drive for nuclear capability would have a domino effect. "Compromise will lead to nuclear proliferation by other states in the region to defend themselves against Iran," she said.
In his address to the conference Minuto-Rizzo, while praising Israel-NATO cooperation, warned that the multinational military structure of NATO precluded the member states from acting on their own.
"NATO allies do not act alone. NATO is not intended as a direct tool to deal with the Middle East crisis - other actors in the meantime will carry out that role," he said.
Minuto-Rizzo hailed last week's signing of the Mediterranean Dialogue as a "new chapter in Israel-NATO cooperation."
However, he again warned that without progress in the broader Middle East, Israel and NATO would not be able to exploit their growing cooperation to its fullest.
"Without a resolution to this conflict we will find our cooperation held hostage to the events here," he said.
Speaking at the same event, IDC dean Prof. Amnon Rubinstein said he hoped NATO would extend its shield over some part of the Middle East.
"We have entered a new era of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and not only from Iran. What we have now are missiles and nuclear capabilities in the hands of madmen," he said.
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