Livni: 'Yes, yes, yes to Palestinian state'

Foreign Minister supports Palestinian nationhood but has serious doubts about Hamas in parliament.

livni sits 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
livni sits 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The ideals of Israel as both a Jewish and a democratic state need not clash and are "interwoven," explained Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday. Livni, addressing the sixth Herzliya Conference, said that although the two ideals seemed to lead to two very different conclusions, "they are interwoven, and do not clash." For those who exclusively follow the ideal of having a Jewish state, said Livni, every day that Jews simply exist in the land of Israel is a victory. But she hinted that such an approach could have repercussions in the future since it ignores fundamental issues. Livni, though urging the audience to "say yes, yes, yes to a Palestinian nation-state," also expressed serious reservations regarding the role that terrorist organizations play in Palestinian government. "Terrorist organizations that hold seats in parliament will [easily] become part of the [legitimate] authority," Livni said, alluding to Hamas's campaign for the Palestinian parliament. "This is not something that should be confined to our internal forums - this is something that Israel needs to act on and make known. It is not solely in Israel's interest that terror organizations not enter the government - it's a much more basic concept, and we must work with the international community to enforce it." "In the 1995 interim agreements, [Israelis and Palestinians] committed to not allowing terror organizations and organizations with racist platforms into government. This is not the meaning of democracy," she added. When European countries faced terrorist organizations running for office, such as the Basque in Spain and the Jihad party in Turkey, they were not allowed to run, Livni noted. "I only ask that they apply the same rules to our situation as they do to themselves." "We will begin to hear people say that it's fine to have a terrorist organization in parliament as long as they leave their guns at the door, or that the political arm and terrorist arm are two completely separate entities," she said. One of the statements in the charter of the Herzliya conference is that the participation of Hamas in Palestinian elections damages the legitimacy of Palestinian statehood and government. Foreign Minister Livni began her speech saying that the conflict defies encapsulation. "I wish we were already in a situation where we could just sum up the conflict, but we are not." The Herzliya conference has become a leading platform for Israeli leaders to articulate national policy. In the third Herzliya Conference, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his support for the Road Map. One year later, he presented the unilateral disengagement plan at the Conference.