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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lecture Summary: FM Tzipi Livni: Tzipi Livni, Vice Prime Minister; Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of Justice

The 7th Herzliya Conference > Lecture Summaries
Tzipi Livni, Vice Prime Minister; Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of

   I believe that every person should have and indeed has a personal goal in
life - his own personal motto. Every company and corporation has business
goals, means to achieve these goals, its own business agenda and motto.
Every society has a common goal and vision it strives to achieve, and this
is the social motto. The existence of this common goal is an essential
element to the endured security of the state of Israel, alongside military
might and its enduring hope for peaceful relations with our neighbors.

 The state of Israel is itself an expression of a common vision and goal,
and it in its base are the common democratic values shared by the citizens
of Israel, however recently we have encountered a need to rephrase and
reaffirm our goals, a need to reaffirm the creation of our common creed and
motto to unite Israel as a society. I do not live above the people and I
hear the voices, crying out in anger or in sadness, coming at times from
indifference - and I can understand where these feelings are coming from,
but we must not allow this to become the norm.

The ongoing conflict with the Palestinians has yet to be resolved, yet I
have faith in the Israeli society and country, as Israel is a strong country
that has endured tougher times before, and it is important to remember that
alongside every new threat that surfaces, there is a hidden opportunity. It
is true that the last war resulted in a large gap between our expectations
from the military to win and the actual results: the dead that did not
return home and the prisoners that are yet to return. The war in Lebanon
uncovered harsh truths and revealed a need to repair that which we thought
had no need to repair - our source of pride, our own military. Nevertheless
I have no doubt the military is capable of regrouping and reforming itself
properly. The war caused us to release the limitations of the use of
military might, however let us not forget what we have gained from the war:
The Lebanese military now controls the South of Lebanon, and the weapons
embargo imposed on Lebanon from Syria. These developments have resulted in a
favorable situation for Israel. There is a feeling of difficulty stemming
from fundamental flaws in several places, including several places where we
did not expect to be fallible. Some of these cases are flawed with apparent
corruption. In the name of maintaining the proper separation of powers, I
will not offer my opinion on which suspicions are founded and which are
unfounded, however I will say that the process of exploration in itself is a
healthy process. The police is interrogating in the most sensitive of
places, however this is part of the Israeli fortitude. If we discover that
corruption has not spread to those places, we shall all sigh with relief.
However if we discover corruption - it is better to investigate and deal
with problems than to ignore them and turn a blind eye to problems - for
this investigation strengthens and invigorates the public servants in the
system who still perform their duties loyally. Trust in the civil service is
one of the cornerstones of democracy.

If we are to assume these trends to be the loss of our common goals, then we
must find a way to rephrase them. The vision still stands. It was present in
the declaration of independence. However we must reaffirm public awareness
regarding it and we must rephrase it, and I believe that this is the common
goal of the state of Israel: To exist and promote the state as a home to the
Jewish people as a Democratic nation, with those two values co-existing and
not contradicting, a country we can consider ourselves privileged to live
in, a country existing in safety with its neighbors.

In light of this goal we must set practical, viable goals we can accomplish
at home, and protect from foreign influences - and that as well depends on

Our common goal must be the writing on the wall, not as a warning - but in a
positive sense. It should be on the wall of every school. It should be on
the wall of the offices of parliament, and decisions should be taken in
light of it. It should be on the wall of every command post and control
center - and it should guide every order into battle, if necessary. This
goal must be protected by a constitution. The state of Israel has yet to
establish an official constitution, and as a result there are understandable
fears and tension between the various sections of society. The lack of a
constitution creates dispute regarding the balance of power. The future
constitution must determine our common goal, and grant viable context to the
words "a national Jewish home" that coexists with the principle of
democracy. The constitution must be headed by the law of return (assuring
citizenship to Jews everywhere). The constitution must determine the civil
rights of the citizens of Israel, and denote the limitation of the
government's reach of power. By that we can show social solidarity,
regardless of social standings, class and religion. Social activities can
not and should not substitute governmental responsibility, and it is still
obligated to give equal opportunities in the fields of education, and the
deployment of a "safety net" that allows us an honorable existence - and
that too depends entirely on us.

Our common goal dictates the national logic of the state of Israel in the
face of its different challenges. IF we translate this to a practical realm,
in the resolution of the Palestinian conflict we must first determine our
principles and then enact them into action - these are principles according
to which we act, and these are the principles we will safe guard in every
step we take.

The understanding of the national interest in the existence of the state of
Israel as a national state for the Jewish people requires us to accept the
principle of "Two Lands for Two Peoples". The state of Israel is the
national home of the Jewish people, and the Palestinian nation is the one
and only solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees. The state of
Israel, after having accepted this partition, has the right to define its
Arab citizens as minority citizens in the Jewish Nation - and the
Palestinian nation has the right to define her citizens as Palestinian

In every political process we decide to undergo, it is our duty to look
after the security of our citizens and to prevent the establishment of a
terrorist state alongside Israel. The national safety is a key ingredient in
the security of the state of Israel, and we must work towards maintaining
areas where there is a majority of Israelis in Israeli hands. We must take
into consideration these two steps in every political maneuver.

I believe that these goals are common to the entire public. In this context,
there is no clear distinction between left and right save for with the
politicians who have a vested interested in maintaining this artificial
partition. Even they know deep inside that these are the key elements in
every process, and just as those coming from the supposed right are now
realizing that the conflict cannot be solved by force alone, those on the
left are coming to the realization that the resolution of the conflict does
not depend solely on Israel. The differences are not in the vision and not
in the goal - they are only in the way to achieve this goal. Despite these
differences we must always maintaining our common vision and goal as a
beacon guiding the way, a goal worth fighting wars for and a goal worth
persisting in negotiations for.

When discussing the political topic there is a constant confusion between
the vision and the road to it. The titles we call the different turns in the
road are irrelevant - as we must decide what the right path to reach our
goals is, but before that we must do two things:

The first is to define the national interests of the state of Israel, the
same interests we want to maintain in every political process. Whichever
path we decide on, we must question whether it maintains these values.

The second, we must question whether the timing and external circumstances
allow us to walk down the path we've decided on, or if we must wait.

The security of the state of Israel is based on military might; however the
interests we are discussing are much more than just operational commands for
a time of need. They deal with the planning of the day after military

Before entering any sort of procedure we must first define these interests,
dealing not only with terms of lands and borders, but also dealing with the
characteristics of the future Palestinian state. These interests must be
mapped and anchored, and must be preserved regardless of the process. We
must search through the interests for those we can substitute with
alternatives, and for those which are worth collapsing negotiations over.
After mapping these interests we must then choose between the existing
paths. Naturally Israel prefers to sign a treaty over other potential
solutions, however no treaty should be signed without taking into
consideration two things: One, the conditions of the negotiations must be
set in such a fashion that even if the treaty is violated, the security of
the state is not compromised; Two, we must assess beforehand what are the
chances for a successful negotiation resulting in a viable agreement.

This assessment requires gathering intelligence, and for that very purpose
we have access to the intelligence branches of the military - however there
is a different type of intelligence, the one that can be acquired from the
other side, by talking to the other side. These meetings are important not
only to hear the other side, but also to voice our position and principles,
so that the other side might know what to expect from us.

If we are to assess current affairs we are to do so by judging matters of
today, and in light of the recent changes. We must take into account the
Hamas and its rise to power, the threat posted by Hezbollah, the Iranian
threat and the new trends towards extremism in the area as our
considerations. All of these elements can change the type of conflict we are
facing, and alter it from a national dispute to a religious one. We
currently have a national solution, and a religious conflict is a whole
different issue.

We must create a different front, and we can create it. We must raise the
concern from the transfer from a national dispute to a religious conflict as
a concern shared by the moderate Palestinians, the moderate Arab states and
to the entire free world that sees the shared necessity to combat this

Once we have identified the possibilities of this conflict we must translate
these possibilities into a number of aspects. For example, we must translate
it into an aspect centered on the Palestinian aspect. Their commitment to
fighting terrorist elements must be upheld if we are to prevent the
emergence of a terrorist state. We must strengthen the moderate alternative,
and this requires us to maintain the pressure on the extremists so that they
understand they are not a viable alternative to the moderates. Even as we
try to reach an alternative option with the moderates from the Palestinian
people, we will not waiver our basic demands. This commitment to creating a
viable alternative is not just an Israeli commitment, but also a part of the
duties of the Palestinian moderate leadership, as our future as well theirs
rests on their ability to perceive and exploit new opportunities as they
emerge. Agreements with the radical factions are not included as one of
these alternatives.

Under the present circumstances, negotiations are in the best Israeli
interest. As long as the other side knows that we shall not hesitate to use
force if necessary, and that negotiations are part of the ongoing struggle
against extremists and terrorism, we do not have to choose between the two
options. We must make a distinction between negotiations and concessions -
any and all concessions are pending accordance with our main goals and
interests. Under this framework we must understand that is important we know
how to prepare towards each step of the way, and to see both sides meet
their respective demands.

As a result of the current situation, the new threats find us in a situation
in which we share common regional goals. The Iranian threat as well as the
war in Lebanon reaffirmed the understanding Iran is the real regional
threat, not Israel, as Iran represents the main fanatical religious threat.
To further clarify the point, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the
cause of extremism in the region - and its resolution will not have any
effect on the radical ideology, which originates from a different place. The
role of the moderate nations that recognize the potential problem with Iran
is to strengthen the moderate leadership. Just as we strive to create such a
front with the moderates, we must strive to create a similar front with the
rest of the free world, with whom we share common values and interests that
must be enacted into action. The international front is not necessarily a
front of advocacy, but the ability to recognize and act upon common
international interests so as to create international policy. In the past we
expected the international community to stay away from our affairs, but now
we demand their intervention. We demand from them to support the moderate
leadership, out of an understanding that the moderates represent their
common values and that this is what may trigger the difference. The way to
create agreements is to determine a common denominator and to act upon on
it. We must present our interests that we share with the rest of the world,
and demand action upon these interests from the international community. For
example, we may consider our insistence on the Palestinian right of return,
which we believe should be resolved with the establishment of a Palestinian
state. We can see this in the rise of Hamas to power, by how we undertook
the military responsibility to deal with the terrorist threat, but demanded
the international diplomatic intervention on the issue. We can also see this
in the presentation of the potential "domino effect" that may follow the war
in Lebanon. We often try to enlist international interests consistent with
the values and needs of Israel, and lately, the two have been the same.

In conclusion - I would like to bring a message to the people of Israel.
Israel today is more transparent, stronger and healthier. I believe Israel
is the best hope of the Israelis and the Jewish people - and that too,
depends entirely on us.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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