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Livni on Syria: 'International community is impotent'

August 7th, 2012
07:45 PM ET

By Lucky Gold, CNN

Syria’s bloody civil war represents a security threat to many nations in the region; none more so than its neighbor, Israel.

Tzipi Livni, former Israeli Foreign Minister and former leader of the centrist Kadima Party, didn’t mince words when describing the international community’s response to the Syrian crisis when speaking with Christiane Amanpour Tuesday:

“The fact that the international community is quite, excuse me, impotent on this issue sent a very sad and problematic message to the region. Because the international community is being watched by extremists in the region. It’s not only inside Syria, it’s by Iran, by other radical elements, by Hezbollah, by Hamas.” 

And speaking of Iran, she did not shy away from Israel’s threat of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program: “Iran needs to know that all the options are on the table. As the world needs to understand it’s not only an Israeli problem. When I was foreign minister. I heard about the Iranian threat in Arabic even more than in Hebrew or in English.”

A Jewish state means something from a national perspective, not a religious one

Meantime, a different kind of war is taking place inside Israel – between the growing numbers of ultra-orthodox and those favoring a secular state. When she resigned from the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in May, Ms. Livni said, “I don’t regret not selling the state to the ultra-orthodox.”

She reiterated to Amanpour, her belief that the ultra-orthodox “have now more power than they should. And in a way, the Likud party and other parties gave them a monopoly on the state of Israel.”

Pointing to the leader of the Likud party, Israel’s Prime Minister, she added: “Netanyahu said himself that for him politically the ultra-orthodox are his natural partners. And I believe that the raison d’etre of the state of Israel is to be the homeland of the Jewish People. So for me being a Jewish state means something from a national perspective, not a religious one.”

Not for the sake of the Palestinians, for the sake of Israel

In light of Mitt Romney’s recent visit to Israel and his comments lauding Jewish culture, she said, “I am quite proud of the achievements of the state of Israel. In a way Israel is truly a miracle in the Middle East; but listen, it’s also part of the reality that the Palestinians don’t have their own state now and they’re under unfortunately an ongoing occupation since ‘67 that must be ended, not for the sake of the Palestinians, for the sake of Israel, by the way.”

Still, she derided using Israel as a political football in the American elections: “The relations between Israel and the US were (always) bipartisan, this is the way it should be. And the idea of the state of Israel being part of the agenda in the elections in the United States is wrong.”

CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Assaf, Israel

    Tzipi Livni has no electoral base, she was afailed opposition leader. If you want to interview a real Israeli opposition leader you should interview Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich or moderate-liberal Yair Lapid.

    August 7, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  2. Fairman

    Israel should negotiate with Syrian Freedom Fighters, so that when the war is over and these fighters are in control, Israel would have a friendly neighbour. Israel could also provide human and economic help to rebuild the country.

    August 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  3. Mark, Israel

    Fairman, maybe we should but then again it can backfire quite rapidly and boy our neighbors
    love to trashing us for been responsible for every unfortunate thing in this region.

    Assaf, maybe Tzipi has no political power at this moment but she has much more balls then Shelly
    to say the truth about the Hareddim and go down on Bibi like he is a spoiled brat that he is.

    August 7, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  4. Larry

    Israeli Democracy? Truly an oxymoron
    Like Assad and Human...

    August 7, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Reply
  5. okezie isaac

    The international community has to me been suspect in the syrian issue judging from what happened in Egypt and Libya. May be due to low investment prospect or plain tiredness from the Biblical point of view that... When they seek peace, destruction comes... Why would the UN and inter allies fall down for Asaad? Truly, impotence is the verb. No kidding.

    August 8, 2012 at 12:46 am | Reply
  6. gazza

    This woman was foreign minister when Israel committed war crimes in Lebanon and the occupied territories, including using chemical phosphorus shells on schools and hospitals. She has some chutzpah calling anyone else radical or extreme.

    August 8, 2012 at 5:56 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      No one, even Israel, has the magic weapons hurting the bad guys only. If the militants in Lebanon, Gaza and other places do not want to be hurt they should not attack Israel in the first place. Today the Gazans and Palestinians in general realize how lucky they were to deal with the Israelis. Now they've began to deal with the Egyptians...

      August 8, 2012 at 6:05 am | Reply
    • Robie

      Hi Gazza
      What did Israel get when leaving the strip? Missiles
      What did Gaza get after the Israeli pullout? You got developed neighborhoods with modern buildings and what did you do with them? Burnt them down.... I suppose like the Taliban destroying all the Buddas...or the Muslims destroying Timbuktu..
      Lets face it Muslims only know one thing and that is self destruction..

      August 8, 2012 at 7:51 am | Reply
    • shachar

      To Gazza

      Lets say for a minute, that u were right
      How do you expect us to take you seriously, when Lebanon's real army shot into civilian cities?
      Why do you not mention THAT?

      One day, these primitives, will turn on lebanese citizens too, just because people like you have more hatred to Israel, than to your arab children.

      August 10, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  7. Thinker23

    Those saying that Ms. livni has "no political power" should tell what did she say they disagree with.

    Fairman... Israel will gladly negotiate with any Arab state willing to do the same.

    August 8, 2012 at 6:01 am | Reply
  8. Paul Martin Welsh expat foreign correspondent

    Regardless to the Syrian outcome...Israel has too many historical enemies surrounding is unlikely that any muslim country will be prepared to bury the hatchet ! Many of the hassidim fight among themselves too like the lubavitch and the satmars they have always disagreed with each other and locked horns. NOt all jews are pro-israel or zionist supporters either...many have married out and just wish these perpetual conflicts between jews and arabs would disappear !

    August 8, 2012 at 6:57 am | Reply
  9. scooby

    By the way, the USA pretty much supports the GDP of Israel. So, what is Romney talking about culture? If some sugar dady also gave me billions of dollars that American Citizens do not get, I can ofcourse have a western GDP. Israel would be another palestine without US support, both financially and militarily. Now they want us to fight their war. Lets join together and not let it happen again (like bag of lies they told us before invading Iraq). In the Middle east Iran is the only country that even has a semblance of democracy. Of course, Ahmadinejad is a lunatic, but he is not all of Iran and he will be gone soon anyway. Also, if Israel has a nuclear bomb, despite umbrella from USA, why are we worried if Iran has one. The Iranian people will not allow Iran to use nuclear weapon. It is only a deterrant from the Israeli bullies in the region.

    August 8, 2012 at 8:06 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      The US aid amounts to about 3% of the Israeli budget. The remaining 97% are generated within Israel.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
  10. Mr. M

    This is a surprise to you? You of all people should know how corrupt and indifferent the representatives at the UN are. With the exception of a few. Power mongering goes on all the time at the UN. Its all a political mascarade where everyone tries to please everyone. Its like a church where people talk about whats messed up with the world but noone does anything to fix it, for fear of destroying an appearance of neutrality? The United Nations is a money vacuum, you put money in and nothing comes out of it.

    August 8, 2012 at 9:47 am | Reply
  11. Samuel Cohen

    Me and Tzipi Livni agree like many Israelis that Israeli Election System is dangerous. This has caused unclear Political Agendas in a Volatile Middle East. Tzipi Livni's Political Career has not finished.

    August 8, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply
  12. Hadas S

    Tzipi Livni is one of the only leaders in Israel who won the elections with 28 [out of 120] mandats voating for her. i think we should listen cerfuly to what she says, regarding the situation in the country. thank's for this interview

    August 9, 2012 at 3:31 am | Reply
  13. israeli

    tzipi livni is a failure. i don't see how she dares criticize anyone after the disastrous period she led the opposition. she destroyed Kadima. she is a weak minded and pathetic woman.

    August 9, 2012 at 11:18 am | Reply
    • israeli

      suffice to say the ultra orthodox are a great problem.

      August 9, 2012 at 11:21 am | Reply
      • Thinker23

        It's NOT sufficient to "say the ultra orthodox are a great problem". Why don't you try to offer a solution? Offering no solutions to problems will only cause more problems and will cause these problems to become even greater.

        August 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  14. ata222wtv99

    Europe and America (North and South)and Russia are living under a system based on total separation between "Religion and Politic"
    Where the religion is a" principale of the State".things are always resolved,returning to the religion,in general.

    August 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      "Europe and America (North and South)and Russia are living under a system based on total separation between "Religion and Politic"" Sure they do... As far as I recall the largest country in Europe is Germany. The Parliament of Germany, the Bundestag, has a plural multi-party system, with two major parties, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), with its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) in the same parliamentary group. Are you sure that the CHRISTIAN Democratic Party and Union represent "total separarion between religion and politics, genius?

      August 10, 2012 at 7:41 am | Reply
  15. ata222wtv99

    The history of some Nations let somebody think that there are many relgions for each nation.It seems that there is a people divided and there are many faithes and different kind of believers,and different wya to act in religion ,like watching a "Mosaic"Amazing Amalgamation"

    August 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Reply
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