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WATCH: Livni explains why she opposed Schalit exchange deal

Livni speaks out on the prisoner swap, regional relations and the Arab Spring – but dodges a question on settlement policy

During her visit to France this week, Kadima leader and head of the opposition Tzipi Livni sat for an interview with Annette Young of France 24‘s English-language service. Previously foreign minister in the Olmert government, Livni comes across as an intelligent and thoughtful person who avoids populist rhetoric. Surprisingly for a politician, she also gives the impression of being quite modest – even self-effacing. She seems to be so engaged in the interview that she’s actually enjoying it, as if it were an off-the-record conversation, and sounds sorry to see it end.

Highlights of the interview:

>> Livni explains that she opposed the Schalit prisoner exchange deal because it strengthened Hamas at the expense of Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah party, but adds that she shares in the joy over Schalit’s release and reminds her interviewer that she is the mother of a soldier;

>> She says that the current government is ‘partly’ responsible for Israel’s becoming increasingly isolated in the Mideast, but also says that there was no use in trying to deal with Hamas and Hezbollah because they refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist;

>> The Kadima leader, who has has been on record in favour of a two-state solution for more than a decade, even though she comes from a highly politicized right-wing family, says that her political views have not, in fact, changed since the mid-1990s;

>> On the Arab Uprising and what it means for Israel: that the young, secular revolutionaries will bring about a more democratic system; or that the ‘extremists’ will use democracy to become more powerful. This, she says, will affect Israel’s status in the region;

>> Also, note that she dodges the question on how she would deal with the settlements.

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    1. Ben Israel

      So let’s be honest…if she were Prime Minister today, leading a KADIMA gov’t with Ehud Barak as Defense Minister, would we be any closer to a “peace agreement” than we are now?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Richard Witty

      We’d probably have one, a reliable and genuine one.

      And, there would still be problems, but problems with a communication process in place to solve.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bronxman

      I also believe that the situation would be better than the one that exists now with Ms. Livni as PM because what exists now is awful. Israel has never been more isolated by the international community. The founding faith in democracy has been replaced by denying many citizen’s basic rights and religious fundamentalism has taken over the culture of tolerance. Funds pour into the settlements at the expense of infrastructure projects in the rest of the country. Tactics have replaced strategy and the end result is presented at the UN in the form of a request for Palestinian statehood. And then there is the Arab Spring, which has radically changed the external political situation, and the current government’s reacts by “staying the course”.

      It’s unlikely that Ms. Livni could have done worse. Actually, I feel that Israel would have been in more capable hands.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben Israel

      “Israel is more isolated than ever”? How do you figure that? Israel has diplomatic relations with more countries than at any time in its history, it is developing extensive trade relations with countries that were off limits in the past such as China, Russia and India, all of whom are real or potential ecnonomic superpowers . The “September Tsunami at the UN” seems to have fizzled out.

      If you think Israel would have been in “more capable hands” just recall the TWO bloody wars the previous gov’t got Israel into plus the kidnapping of Gilat Shalit which has caused much damage to Israel, in addition to the Goldstone report.
      I think your view of things is colored by “progressive” distorted perceptions. If “progressives” don’t like Israel (which is indeed the case) that means the “whole world” doesn’t like Israel, which, of course, is not the situation.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Richard Witty

      As the King of Jordan described yesterday, by the end of the year, it is likely (more than just possible), that Israel will have treaties in effect with only one country of its immediate neighbors, Jordan, and that relationship is straining as well.

      Turkey, horrible. Lebanon, horrible. Syria, horrible. Palestinian Authority, horrible. Jordan, cool. Egypt, cold.

      You think this is progress Ben Israel?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Richard Witty

      My sense from the article is that Lisa does not have a favorable opinion of Tzipi Livni, that she is a politician, and not committed to human rights for human rights sake, but to the extent that she is interested in human rights and peace, its for the sake of Israeli preservation or even advantage.

      And, still, THAT is better than likud’s approach, more practical relative to security and relative to reconciliation with the PA, and the Palestinian people.

      Israel cannot win the continuity argument, if it doesn’t abide by its promises (of prior administrations), in this case to release Fatah prisoners unilaterally if Hamas prisoners were released in a hostage deal.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Lisa, I fail to understand your introduction. She explicitly stated that Israeli Jews have a “right” to have all the land occupied in Hebrew times, it just “we are going to be nice and give some of it up”; and the Palestinian Papers clearly showed that her version of negotiating was “oh, you’ve decided to accept our demands from last time; unfortunately we’ve changed our minds and here is a new list”.

      I don’t know why Israelis can’t get that Zionism is based on Greater Israel and favoring Jews; which because of its colonial and cultural elitism perspective cannot avoid moving more and more toward fascism; which is patently obviously now in full bloom. And a genuine peaceful country will only occur when it is multicultural, same rights for all, and admitting that Zionism is unworkable.

      Livni is the last person, along with many others, who will facilitate this unavoidable phenomenon from coming into existence.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Warren: my introduction is a summary of the interview; it is not a value judgment of Tzipi Livni’s political views. I am not a Kadima voter.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Ben Israel

      What you are describing fits well with the current political wave going over the Arab/Muslim world, as we have already seen in the election results in supposedly, moderate, Westernized Tunisia. These Muslim groups advocate religious coercion to one degree or another and discrimination, also to one degree or another against religious minorities and attempts to spread Islam to areas where it is not the majority religion. Sounds like a “greater Islam” ideology and it encompasses far more people that the “Greater Israel” amd the “favoring Jews” idea you posited. For us minorities in the Middle East (Dar el-Islam-the realm of Islam as the Muslims call it) it does not bode well. I think that is what you should be worried about.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Ben Israel – It is becoming increasingly obvious that you are paid to write your comments in hasbara talking-point style. I don’t like that: Your comments stifle authentic, thoughtful debate. Please limit your comments to *one* per post on my channel, from now on.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Mitchell Cohen

      Ben Israel, apparently you are being “paid” to write your comments. Do they have work for me too? I hate my two jobs. I would rather get paid to do something I like to do….:-)

      Reply to Comment
    12. Ben Israel

      Okay, Lisa, this is my final post on this thread…but I think you would agree that I have the right to defend myself. It is interesting that you “progressives” now have to resort to conspiracy theories. I am well aware of the “progressive” attitude that “any rational person would have to agree with us” and so that anyone who doesn’t is obviously a corrupt, paid hireling. That is why the Israeli Left views any true “right-wingers” who reach top positions of responsibility in the country as being “illegitimate” and it is necessary to remove them. That, apparently, is the reason that censorship is being threatened here. I state for the last time….I am not being paid and its too bad if you don’t like my “talking points” style (I had never even heard it called that until you pointed it out).

      Reply to Comment
    13. AYLA

      excellent interview. Thanks for blogging/posting, Lisa.
      Ben Israel, sorry I accused you yesterday, on another thread, of being paid; I believe you if you say you aren’t. Everything else I said, I stand by. Also, you could make good money for your time here :).

      Reply to Comment
    14. Rysk

      This is the second post now where Lisa Goldman has asked dissenting posters to stay away. Ben Israel’s comments both in this thread, and in general on the site are perfectly reasonable. The idea that he’s being paid by some HonestReporting type outfit to comment here is a particularly ludicrous and embarrassing assertion. Lisa Goldman states that his comments ‘stifle, authentic thoughtful debate’ yet her output below the line seems to be restricted to warnings, bannings, and one word ‘nopes’ and ‘yeps’. Is this online magazine supposed to be an echo chamber for those on the left?

      Reply to Comment
    15. This online magazine is a news outlet. It also happens to be a news outlet that allows comments, which is is not a given. This is also my personal channel. What I see here is that one or two commenters are dominating the discussion, which deters other commenters from expressing their opinions. And so I have asked Ben Israel, who does dominate most threads with comments that tend to be of little relevance to the actual article, to limit himself to one comment per thread. That is all I have to say on this matter.

      Reply to Comment
    16. RichardNYC

      Deleted by moderator.

      Reply to Comment
    17. AYLA

      @Rysk–the last time I saw Lisa Goldman write “yep” or “nope” it was in response to people asserting that if muslims were to hold vigil on wall street as jews did with kol nidrei, there would be no tolerance for them. It was a preposterous assertion that could only be made by people who have never lived on the same melting pot of an island as wall street. So guess what happened on October 21st, right around the time that Jews had a simchat torah festival at occupy wall street? Muslim New Yorkers held Friday Prayers at Liberty Plaza, with a sermon on social justice and Islam. guess how it went? beautifully. Guess how it was received? with gratitude. Sorry this is totally off topic. how to tie it back to Livni? Somehow: break out of assumptions and listen to what is actually happening, here, now, comes to mind.

      Reply to Comment
    18. AYLA

      I love what Livni said in the end, about how one reason to expedite serious negotiations on two states is that she doesn’t want Palestine to be the core voter issue in Egyptians elections or other elections in the region.

      Reply to Comment
    19. RichardNYC

      Deleted by moderator.

      Reply to Comment
    20. RichardNYC

      Comment deleted by moderator.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Nite Owl

      Is Ben Israel denying that there are paid Hasbara trolls working the posting boards the world over or just denying that he is one. His posts are very close to the standard Hasbara spouting of the party line so I’ll side with Lisa on this.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Rysk

      Your last sentence spoke volumes Lisa

      Some would call this site a ‘news outlet’, many wouldn’t.

      Reply to Comment
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