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Israel would preserve ‘Jewish, democratic’ values with Palestinian deal, Tzipi Livni tells Amanpour

March 4th, 2014
03:49 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A peace deal with the Palestinians would allow Israel to keep its “values as a Jewish, democratic state,” chief Israeli negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“The best choice is to divide the land and to keep the state of Israel – maybe smaller – but with our values as a Jewish, democratic state living in harmony – a secured state,” Livni said from Washington.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Washington to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama and discuss, among other things, America’s renewed push for Middle East peace.

Secretary of State John Kerry is spearheading an effort to have Israel and the Palestinians reach a framework agreement – a foundation upon which a permanent deal could be negotiated.

“I’m sure that [neither] us [nor] the Palestinians are going to be in love with it,” Livni said. “But I hope that both of us can live with it, move forward, and this is something that can create trust and basis for negotiations.”

Sitting next to President Obama in the Oval Office on Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu did not strike an optimistic tone.

“The 20 years that have passed since Israel entered the peace process have been marked by unprecedented steps that Israel has taken to advance peace,” Netanyahu said. “When you look at what we got in return, it’s been scores of suicide bombings, thousands of rockets on our cities fired from the areas we vacated, and just incessant Palestinian incitement against Israel.”

President Obama, in an interview with Bloomberg View’s Jeffrey Golberg ahead of the meeting, described Palestinian President Mahmoud as the most politically moderate leader the Palestinians have ever had.

“It’s not an easy task for any leader, on the Israel side or the Palestinian side,” Livni said. “It’s about the bold, courageous decisions that both of them need to make for the sake of their own people – Netanyahu for the future of Israelis and Mahmoud Abbas for the future of Palestinians.”

Amanpour asked if Livni was optimistic about the process.

“I cannot say that I’m optimistic or pessimistic. I’m praying that it will work. I think that this is an historical moment, and we shouldn’t miss it.”

Israel needs to face up to the growing BDS campaign – boycott, divest, and sanction – against Israel and its products.

“Me as an Israeli leader – I cannot turn a blind eye and to say it’s not there,” she said. “We need to face it, and I believe that making an agreement with the Palestinians is part of the answer that we can give to this trend in the international community.”

But peace negotiations, she said, are not a zero-sum game “in which without framework Israel loses and the Palestinians win. It’s lose-lose situation for both of us.”

The American and Israel presidents also discussed Iran, and ongoing negotiations over that country’s nuclear program.

When world powers and Iran reached an interim deal last November – talks about talks, not unlike the potential Palestinian agreement – Netanyahu derided the development as a “historic mistake.”

That deal, in large part a confidence-building measure, had Iran freeze parts of its nuclear program in exchange for the temporary and reversible lifting of some of the vast sanctions the West has imposed on Iran.

Livni explains concern over Iran talks

In the Oval Office on Monday, Obama reiterated his “absolute commitment” to preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

“Iran is a risk not only to Israel, but to the entire world,” Livni said.

“We are not against negotiations with Iran, but we have some concerns whether lifting some of the sanctions and giving legitimacy to Iran … can create a situation in which we cannot turn the wheel back in order to push them not to have a nuclear weapon. So these are the concerns.”

“So we are sharing the same goal with some differences about the best way to achieve it.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. alvin

    March 4, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  2. alvin

    March 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  3. Cecil Renfield

    A smaller Jewish State. Really, does that mean Israel would give back some of its stolen lands? How generous of the despised regime to consider such a benevolent gesture.

    March 5, 2014 at 1:33 am | Reply
    • buffalogal

      If anything has been "stolen" it most certainly has been stolen from Israel! You have no idea how incorrect your statement is sir. In the end, Israel should and will be much larger because this is G-Ds chosen people and land. Apparently you do not read or believe in the Bible. HE is the one who will make a believer out of you and those who think like you. I hope for your sake, you see the light before it's too late for you. More is at stake than you can imagine.Educate yourself quickly, for the time is growing quickly for all this nonsense to come to an end.

      March 5, 2014 at 5:40 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Usually the argument about "stolen lands" ends when I ask my opponents to SHOW THE LEGAL DEEDS proving that the "stolen" lands belong to someone else.

      March 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  4. Harvey Garfield

    You need to read up on your history . You will discover it was Jordan who 'stole ' the land designated to be a Palestinian state , by annexing it following the Arab League failure to destroy the nascent state of Israel in 1948
    There was no so called occupation and no settlements between 1948 and 1967 so no impediment ( apart from Jordan ) to creating a Palestinian state . In reality then as now that was never the objective , it being the eradication of all Israel ie pre 67.
    Then again I think that is what you allude to

    March 5, 2014 at 3:25 am | Reply
  5. Dirk

    "The 20 years that have passed since Israel entered the peace process have been marked by unprecedented steps that Israel has taken to advance peace". If a continued occupation, assassinations, invasions, flotilla raids, and building settlements are considered unprecedented steps towards peace, what would the opposite look like?

    March 5, 2014 at 3:31 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Dirk... It's unfortunate but ONE side can initiate and maintain a war while BOTH sides are necessary to make peace. This means that as long as ONE side (in this case, the Palestinians) is willing the war to continue it will continue and with it will continue occupation, assassinations, invasions, flotilla raids, settlements and everything else the Palestinians and their supporters love to complain about. If and when the Palestinians will decide that peace is better than war they will stop violence, recognize Israel and negotiate a peace agreement. This future peace agreement will end the war and both Israelis and Palestinians will be able to live in peace and prosperity in their respective states.

      March 8, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  6. buffalogal

    Thank you, Mr. Garfield, I agree wholeheartedly with your comment.

    March 5, 2014 at 5:43 am | Reply
  7. jossefperl

    Christian Amanpour, you are typically hostile in interviewing Israeli leaders except Tzipi Livni, who is willing to agree with you that Israel would be an Apartheid state unless it reaches peace with Abbas. The demographic threat to Israel from having a Palestinian majority is far less serious than those who use it as a way to pressure Israel to risk its security are trying to present. The birth rate among Palestinians has been declining rapidly while Israel's birth rate is the highest in the democratic world. The basic fact are that the Palestinians even now refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which means that they do not recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel; so all the rest of the details are meaningless.

    March 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      There are only two possible realistic ways for Israel and the Palestinians to go from here. One is the "two-state solution" where a sovereign Arab Palestinian state is established in Gaza and most of the West Bank. The other is the "one-state solution" where Israel will annex the West Bank and the Palestinian Arabs living there will become Israeli citizens. The moderates on both sides prefer the former option. The extremists on both sides dream about the latter.

      March 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Reply
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