Monday, November 19, 2007

Knesset members lash out at Livni

Knesset members from both ends of the political spectrum responded with vehemence to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's statement on Sunday that a Palestinian state would serve as a solution to Arab-Israelis and that all MKs must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) even compared the foreign minister to Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, who has stated in the past his support for population swaps with a future Palestinian state.
"The statement sounds like something that came out of the mouth of Avigdor Lieberman, and does not befit her." Paz-Pines said. "Israel is the home of the Jewish people, but we mustn't forget that it is also the home and country of non-Jewish citizens. The Palestinian state will serve as a solution to the [Palestinian] refugee problem, but not for Arab-Israelis," Paz-Pines continued.
In reaction to Livni's comments, MK Arye Eldad (NU-NRP) said that the Palestinians already have a state in Jordan, whose population is 70 percent Palestinian.
According to Eldad, "Tzipi Livni wants to give another country to the Palestinians and she thinks that Arab-Israelis will be satisfied with it. Whoever gives up Judea and Samaria will not be able to stop [and will give up] the Galilee and the Negev [as well]." He added.
Arab MK and Hadash Chairman Muhammad Barakei called Livni's words "an escalation in Livni and her government's chutzpa. Apparently the moderate Right-wing is becoming more and more extreme," he claimed. "The Palestinian Arabs in Israel are the country's children and live in their homeland."
During a meeting with visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Livni had criticized MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL) for his statements encouraging the Palestinians not to agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Livni said that the establishment of a Palestinian state would be a solution for all Palestinians, whether in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or in Israel.
The Palestinians can't make both arguments, Livni said. It must be clear that Israel was founded as the Jewish homeland, and every elected MK has to recognize that, the foreign minister said.

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