Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Opposition Leader Livni: We Must Make Hard Decisions
Ex-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, head of the Opposition in the Knesset, spoke at the Jerusalem Conference on her vision of Israel as a Jewish state.
“My vision, and that of the Kadima party, deals with the continued existence of Israel as Jewish and democratic, living securely in the Land of Israel. This is a vision that is shared by many in this country – but unfortunately, there are deep rifts in our society, and these overshadow our mutual goals... “The establishment of the State of Israel did not happen as a result of the Holocaust or by virtue of the UN declaration, but because it is the Jewish Nation’s legitimate right - the expression of our historic vision to return to our land. But sadly, that which was self-evident when the State was established, is no longer self-evident.”
Livni related to the hostile Goldstone report, saying it “originated in a council that promotes processes almost exclusively against Israel… The report is not only a delegitimization of Israel, but affects our very right to exist and defend ourselves. Hamas refuses to accept our existence, while the Goldstone report attempts to cut off our ability to fight terrorism. We must fight these threats together.”
In contrast with Minister Benny Begin, who said told the Conference on Tuesday that no solution is feasible in the foreseeable future and that we must strive simply to make the most out of the present stalemate, Livni said, “We must make hard decisions, for if not, we will find ourselves living in two different societies [Jewish and Arab], hostile to each other, with different school systems and with nothing in common.”
“If we don’t make hard decisions now, we are in danger of losing all that is precious to all of us. Our existence as a Jewish state is not just a technical matter... Maintaining a Jewish majority is important, but it’s not just a question of numbers, but of our ability to maintain an enduring Jewish national character – not only in Bnei Brak and Meah She’arim, but also in Tel Aviv.”
Livni said Israel must move forward towards a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, “because if not, we will end up not with one bi-national state, as some think, but with one Arab state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. We must make hard decisions – not out of weakness, but because it’s in our interest… The price of such an arrangement is dear – but not if we compare it to the alternative, namely, the loss of all that we believe in.”
Livni also spoke about the need to define the parameters of a Jewish state, the role of conversion to Judaism, the “undue” influence of hareidi-religious parties on Jewish matters, the need for a Constitution, and more.
Concluding on an optimistic note, she said, “I believe that we will be able to form and reach a common denominator, not only politically, but also socially.”