FM takes heat over Israeli Arab remark

Kadima head implies nationalistic aspirations of Israeli-Arabs can only be realized in future Palestine.

schalit 224  (photo credit: Channel 10 [file])
schalit 224
(photo credit: Channel 10 [file])
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni signalled on Thursday that she believed Israeli Arabs could best fulfill their nationalist goals by moving to a future Palestinian state. "My solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic State of Israel is to have two nation-states with certain concessions and with clear red lines," Livni told a group of students at a Tel Aviv high school. "And among other things, I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Israeli Arabs, and tell them, 'your national solution lies elsewhere.'" Livni went on to emphasize that she preferred Israeli Arabs to remain in Israel as equal citizens with full rights, but with the understanding that they were living in the Jewish homeland. "You are citizens with equal rights, but you are citizens with equal rights in a state that is the national home of the Jewish people," she said. MK Ahmed Tibi blasted Livni's remarks and called upon the foreign minister to clarify her position vis-a-vis the Arab residents of Israel. "Livni is again speaking in Bibi's voice," Tibi said. "She must decide whether she means to leave a million Arabs without political rights or a national identity, or whether she really intends to transfer a million Arab citizens to the Palestinian state that will be established. [And if this is this case,] Then she must honestly say so." "[Likud candidate Moshe] Feiglin speaks harshly, but at least honestly," he added. "Livni must be straightforward and open as is appropriate for someone running for prime minister." Livni also hinted that kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit might remain in the hands of Hamas in Gaza for some time to come, as she told students that, "Just like each and every one of you, we want Gilad to come back, but we cannot elaborate on that here. The impression that maybe we can bring him back but don't want to is simply untrue." "The thought that I can perhaps bring about Schalit's release but am doing nothing is a horrible thought," Livni said. "But when a soldier goes to the army he is taking a risk. We all want him to come home safely but [the knowledge that one might be captured] is part of the willingness to fight. We have no choice. We all want Gilad to come home, but there is always the risk of minimum casualties and it isn't always possible to bring everyone home." Earlier Thursday, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar told Israel Radio that a deal to free Schalit "could be reached in a day" if an Israeli government brave enough to release 1,000 prisoners is formed. Without going into details, Livni criticized the system of government in Israel, lamenting the fact that "Governments don't last, and because of this bad system we don't get the chance to do anything." However, the Kadima head did promise that "right after elections I will work to change the system." "There are also non-hedonistic politicians who don't fly first class and smoke cigars," she said, in a clear reference to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Relating to the rightward shift seen in this week's Likud primaries, Livni said it was now easier for the public to make the "right" choice. "Now the distinction between the different paths is clear," she said. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.