Livni: Israel must put forward a peace plan

Kadima head tells Herzliya Conference: If we don't initiate plan in Hebrew, "we'll get one in Arabic and French."

peres looks like rabin 248.88 (photo credit: Yotan Frum)
peres looks like rabin 248.88
(photo credit: Yotan Frum)
If Israel fails to initiate a peace plan after the elections, "we'll get the Arab initiative," Foreign Minister and Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni said Monday during a keynote speech at the Herzliya Conference. "Peace is in our interest," Livni continued. "If we don't put a plan on the table in Hebrew, we'll get a plan in Arabic and French. Only an Israeli initiative can reinforce Israel's interests while also getting broad international support for what we need do simultaneously, which is to fight terror." Israel was committed to peace negotiations with "the pragmatic sides of the Palestinian Authority," she said, adding that talks would be part of her premiership if she forms the next government after the elections. Livni said this election was about peace, and she called the choice facing voters one between "those who want peace and those who don't." "The dove is on the windowsill," she said. "We can either slam the door or let it in. The choice is in your hands." In the wake of her speech, both Likud and Meretz released statements expressing doubt that Livni could deliver on her promise to bring peace. "It has been proven that Livni's path does not bring peace, but only terror and wars," the Likud said. "Livni has not learned from her past mistakes. It is clear from her statements on Saturday night that she did not regret the Gaza Strip disengagement." Meretz said Livni was leading a second Likud that could not bring peace and would end up joining a right-wing extremist government. Earlier Monday, President Shimon Peres told the conference that the new government, whoever leads it, must continue the peace process. Peace negotiations with the PLO have been conducted for the past 16 years with significant developments, he said, and warned that efforts toward peace should not be allowed to stagnate. "Peace cannot be postponed for another four years," he said. He also said the differences between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority within Israel couldn't be allowed to erupt into a full-blown conflict. He added that while it pained him to hear some of the ugly exchanges between Arab MKs and those who spoke against them, it was nonetheless a source of pride to him that the representatives of the Arab minority were free to express their views within the framework of Israeli democracy, providing of course that they refrained from incitement. On the economic front, he said the financial crisis could well provide opportunities for the creation and development of new industries in the areas of clean energy, water, genetics and interactive education. It was also important, he said, to develop new robotics-based technologies with which to fight terror. At the beginning of his address, Peres urged the electorate to go out on February 10 and exercise its democratic right to vote. This was the only way to influence the future of the state, he said.