Livni: Israel should not be issue in US elections

Former Kadima head tells CNN Israel is being "sold to the ultra-Orthodox," slams Likud for giving them religious monopoly.

Livni on CNN 370 (photo credit: Screenshot)
Livni on CNN 370
(photo credit: Screenshot)
Former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday night for making Israel an issue in the US presidential election.
In an interview with CNN, Christiane Amanpour asked Livni how she felt about Romney “very clearly aligning himself with the government of prime minister Netanyahu.”
Livni did not disagree and issued veiled criticism of both men.
“Since Israel’s establishment, relations between Israel and the United States were bipartisan,” Livni said. “This is the way it should be. The idea of the State of Israel being part of the agenda in the elections in the United States is wrong.The relations are not based on partisan issues but on shared values. Israel is part of the free world led by the United States no matter what happens in the region. This is the reason why any American president can and should work with any Israeli prime minister and vice versa.”
When Livni was asked about Romney’s comparison of Israeli and Palestinian culture, she at first resisted and said that responding would be tantamount to interfering in the US election. (Romney, later explaining his remarks made during his visit to Israel, wrote in the National Review, that he had “suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it.”) Livni criticized Romney’s statements.
“It is also part of the reality that the Palestinians don’t have their own state now and unfortunately they have been under an occupation since 1967 that should be ended for Israel’s sake,” she told CNN.
Livni is on a weeklong tour of the United States in which she is speaking for American Friends of the IDF. She wrote on her Facebook page that she would also be going to meetings and giving interviews.
In the CNN interview, Livni accused Netanyahu of failing to make difficult decisions regarding the integration of the haredi community into the broader Israeli society.
When Amanpour asked if Israel was being “sold to the ultra-Orthodox,” Livni responded bluntly: “Unfortunately yes, politically.”
She continued: “Unfortunately they now have more power than they should. And in a way, the Likud Party and other parties gave them a monopoly on the Jewishness of the State of Israel.”
Livni singled out the prime minister as being particularly culpable. “Netanyahu said himself that for him politically the ultra-Orthodox are his natural partners,” she said, later adding, “It has been proven that Netanyahu doesn’t want to [alienate the haredim] and this is going to be part of future elections in Israel.”
Addressing controversy over haredi enlistment in the IDF, an issue that caused a fracture in the ruling coalition when Kadima withdrew from the government last month, she said the issue needs to be solved by all Zionist parties coming together and demanding that a solution be found immediately.
Livni explained that the values of Israel are being threatened.
“Politically, when you have a part of Israeli society believing that the source of authority is not the law and the Supreme Court but the Torah, the Halacha and the rabbis, we have a clash between the values of democracy and what I believe are our values as a Jewish state.”
During the interview, Livni spoke extensively about the need to institute a constitution, adding this would allow Israel to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and solve issues pertaining to the ultra-Orthodox community.
Turning to Syria, she said the Assad regime, which has chemical weapons, threatens Israel.
“The expectation by others for us to just look, see and watch is not acceptable,” she said. “The fact that the international community is, excuse me, quite impotent on this issue sends a very sad and problematic message to the region.”