Monday, May 14, 2007

Tzipi Livni's Interview - Text

From the interview:-

Q: In your estimation can we expect in the near future an Israeli leadership that, like the Persian King Cyrus who liberated the Jews from Babylonian imprisonment, will move to broach a peace process with the Arabs, armed with a new philosophy of peace?

A: Most of the Israeli people know that peace is needed and that it can be reached by compromise. In this context I represent the majority view that calls for two states, one Jewish, the other Palestinian, meaning that the way to a Palestinian state begins by abjuring terror – which is in the best interest of Palestinians as well as Israelis. To return to your question, which assumes that such an Israeli leadership does not exist - I object to such an assumption. Israel has made concessions and brave steps such as her withdrawal from the Gaza strip and the removal of all settlements there, thus sending a message to the Palestinians that we mean what we say.

Q: Whatever,.... but Gaza was a burden to Israel...

A: I repeat: The decision to uproot seven thousand settlers from Gaza, many of whom were born there, was brave, painful and hard. But we wanted to send a message to the Palestinians and the world that we were serious. We didn't want to rule the Palestinians nor get into a battle with terror because that is a burden. Our withdrawal comes out of a conception of peace. If the peace process is delayed it is not because of Israeli unreadiness, but because the moderate Palestinians who want a two-state solution are incapable of overcoming violence. As a representative of the Israeli majority I can assure you that Gaza was not the last step. Setting up a Palestinian state will oblige us to further withdrawals.

Q: You have just marked 59 years since the end of British occupation. If occupation per se is an affront to human rights, what do you have to say about your occupation of Arab lands?

A: Following the 1967 war we thought that peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians between the sea and the Jordan River was possible without ruling over them. Today we see the answer lies in partition between two states. This answers the needs of the Jews as well as those of the Arabs of Gaza, the West Bank and the 1948 refugees. But terrorism compels us to remain in those areas.

What we plan now - unlike in Gaza - is to withdraw after negotiating with the Palestinians, plus having security arrangements. As for your reference to British rule, we have no imperialist ambitions but only security needs, and we have to reach agreement.

Q: If the Arabs are offering peace and normal relations while Israel is confiscating West Bank lands, what can Israel offer the Arabs?

A: I object to your assumptions.

Q: But you are in fact confiscating!

A: Let me say that Israel, moderate Palestinians and Arabs are agreed that there must be a two-state solution. The borders between Israel and the Palestine state will be negotiated in future talks. It is not Israeli policy to stall the peace process. The Camp David talks in 2000 broke down in violence. Had they succeeded, the Palestinians would be celebrating their 7th anniversary by now.

Q: But on only 60%of the West Bank...

A: You are talking about the future area of the Palestinian state. I am saying that they could have been celebrating already seven years of independence and liberty. Note that any solution must be based on compromise by all sides. We will not turn history back to before Israel was established. Israel is a fact. We look forward to the day when a Palestinian state will exist based on shared principles and values that include the end of violence.

Q: Constitutions usually define state borders. Does yours? Does it include the Golan Heights?

A: Israeli law applies to the Golan.

Q: Meaning that it is inside your borders?

A: We do not have a constitution. There were the post-1948 lines and then came the 1967 war in which Israel took the territories, which we did not annex. They are the subject of our dispute with the Palestinians. The eventual borders between Israel and the Palestinians will be settled by negotiation.

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