Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More Tzipi

Tzipi Livni, Israel's Foreign Minister has received some more press coverage that is proving to be quite revealing. Here are excerpts from her interview in the Washington Post

I entered Israel's political life and joined Likud because I thought it should lead Israel in terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict . . . But in the last two years, most of Likud leaders couldn't decide. There was the disengagement plan. Some of them voted against it. At the beginning, I thought that the day after the disengagement plan, we could all be united and lead the country again. Then I understood that there is no chance to get the Likud to be a united party because most Likud leaders couldn't make clear statements about the need for Israel to support a process for a two-state solution. Mostly they were arguing about the past, not the future. Until now, every Likud platform starts with the word "no" to a Palestinian state, "no" to the disengagement plan, "no" to this and "no" to that. I believe it's important that a party that wants to lead Israel should have a platform that is about values or ideas and accept the understanding that, at the end of the day, there's going to be two states.

You need a party that puts forward values?

My need as an Israeli and a Jew is to keep a Jewish homeland for the Jewish people, a sovereign, Jewish and democratic state with a Jewish majority. So how do we [do that]? The idea is to divide the land, to give up some of our rights on the land of Israel and to establish a two-state solution.

It is important to understand the real meaning of a two-state solution. Israel was established as a homeland for the Jewish people and embraced all the Jews who had to leave Arab states. This should be also the true meaning of the future Palestinian state. It should be the answer for the Palestinians wherever they are -- those who live in the territories and those who are being kept as political cards in refugee camps. This is the hard core of the conflict. In other words, the establishment of a Palestinian state takes [care of] what the Palestinians call "the right of return."

How are you going to get there? Are you going to evacuate West Bank settlements?

This government adopted the road map to give the Palestinians a political horizon . . . to define from the beginning that at the end of the process, Israel will negotiate with the Palestinians all the final status issues. The road map to get two states was cut into phases. In the first phase there are also some Israeli obligations but mostly it is the Palestinians' obligation to dismantle terrorist organizations, to reform, to democratize. The idea is that Israel will not accept a Palestinian state that hosts terrorist organizations or is a base for terror against Israeli civilians.

Can you go ahead with your unilateral plans to disengage if Hamas is in the government?
As I said before, Israel adopted the road map.

The idea of the disengagement plan was to open a new window of opportunity. Before, we were on the first phase of the road map. But the Palestinians didn't implement their part. There was no partner on the Palestinian side. Israel could wait on the first phase of the road map and do nothing. But we decided that we could take some risky steps and send a message to the world and to the Palestinians that we mean business -- that when needed, we are dismantling settlements. The message is that Israel is no longer the Palestinian excuse for not fighting terrorism.

We took our forces out of the Gaza Strip; we dismantled the settlements and now Israel is no longer the excuse. And now we are back on the track of the road map; we are not talking now about more unilateral steps. . . . Our expectation now is that the Palestinians will implement their word.

You grew up in a hard-line Likud household?

Today was the memorial for my father. I just came from the graveyard. On his gravestone is written, "Here lies the Head of Operations of the Irgun -- the underground that fought for the establishment of the State of Israel." And on his tombstone he left us the map of Greater Israel -- with both sides of the Jordan Valley being part of Israel.

Many ask if territorial compromise is against my father's ideology, and I say he taught me to believe in a democratic Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people where all people enjoy equal rights. I came to the conclusion that I cannot implement all of my ideology. I have to choose and my choice was to implement the ideology of a homeland for the Jewish people with equal rights to all the minorities in the land of Israel, but [the homeland will be ] only in part of the land of Israel.

You decided you can't rule over another people?

It's against my values.

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