FM Livni: "This is a very special occasion for me to be here with you, the leaders of the free world, to discuss global security issues."

 Address by FM Livni to the Munich Conference on Security Policy


Photo: GPO

Address by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni to the Munich Conference on Security Policy
Munich, February 9, 2007

Listen to FM Livni’s address to the Munich Conference

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honored to be here tonight. This is a very special occasion for me to be here with you, the leaders of the free world, to discuss global security issues.

This is a special opportunity to share my vision with you because you represent enormous power and it can be effective only if you know to how do the following:

To identify the common threats, to agree upon the right way to handle them and to be ready to pay the price for making the right decisions. Sometimes, the price can be political or economical or other prices that leaders sometimes need to pay.

Can we predict the future? In my first visit to Auschwitz, I kept asking myself, whether there was a moment in time in which it was clear to the leadership what kind of threats the people faced and whether they could they have prevented the horrific results. I believe now, that there are moments in history, in which the threats are clear and prevention is possible, as long as we do not close our eyes and we are ready to do the right things.

An understanding of the threat in advance also creates the opportunity to work together in order to create a better future and to change reality. No less important is to identify processes.

In today’s conflicts, the old local national conflicts are being replaced by global religious conflicts. These conflicts are not solvable in a political compromise, because the nature of extreme religious conflict is that the extremists are not fighting for their own rights, but they are fighting to deprive the others from their rights. The rights of the others can be their rights to different religious expression, different national expression, or even the others’ physical existence.

The fights between extremists and moderates can take place even within the same religion as we can see, within the Islamic world, between the Shiites and the Sunni. The tools of the extremists are being used and they are using the same tools that are meant to be the tools for progress moderation and understanding. The mass media, for example, Al Jazeera, and the Internet sites, are being used in order to distribute their ideology.

In a very sophisticated way, they are exploiting the weakest point of the Western world – public opinion. Sometimes moderate leaders are too weak to face public opinion. Another sophisticated element is that the extremists are exploiting the values of the western world, our values. Especially the basic value of the free world is the acceptance of the other and the willingness to fight for their basic rights.

They are counting, the extremists on the lack of willingness of the free world to use power in order to defend its values. Not every conflict can be solved by military means, but I can assure you, I do prefer diplomatic efforts. But the willingness to use military power is not in contradiction to diplomacy, but compliments it. The willingness to use force is the best assurance that we will not have to use it. This is the essence of deterrents.

When the world is divided between moderates and extremists, the only way to make a difference is to work simultaneously, at both ends of the same equation. On the one hand, to empower the moderates and on the other hand, to weaken and to de-legitimize the extremists.

Now, let us look at the application of these principals in our troubled Middle East.

In order to give the right answer to the challenges in the Middle East, it is crucial to deal with some old perceptions. Because there is a change in the allies and alliances in the Middle East and there are now new camps in the Middle East, because the old perception was that the conflict was between the Jews and the Arabs; Israelis and Palestinians. But now, we can see, while setting aside these false and old perceptions, we can see, in the same camp of moderate Israelis and moderate Palestinians, moderate Arab leaders, Muslims and of course, the free world.

On the other side, we can see the extremists; those whose vision is based on extreme religious ideology, like Iran; its long arm, its proxy, the Hizbullah and of course, the Hamas, in the Palestinian Authority. And when it comes also, to misperceptions of the conflict in the Middle East, I would like to make it clear. The conflict in the Middle East is not the cause for extremism; we are suffering from the consequence of extremism.
And Iran is the best example, maybe the best test for it.

Because just imagine, if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, disappears, is there anyone who believes that the Iranian ideology will disappear with it? The answer is clear. And clearly Iran is the major threat, not only to the region, not only to Israel, but to the world.

The facts are clear; it is a regime which is based on extreme religious ideology with an aspiration to change or to take over the region with its jihad ideology.

It is a regime which calls for the destruction of a state, a member of the international community, Israel, my home. It is a regime which mocks the Holocaust while threatening the world with a new one and trying to develop the weapon to do so.

Iran is not only a threat to Israel, and it is not only a threat to the region; it is agreed that the world cannot afford a nuclear Iran. But the international community must not show any kind of hesitation, because, unfortunately, sometimes, the need for consensus leads to compromises and there are some that are not willing to pay the price, maybe the economic price, for the right decisions.

Ladies and gentlemen, the free world is being watched; not only by Iran but also by its neighbors, that understand the threats; Gulf countries, and others, which are part of the moderate camps. Any hesitation on our part is being perceived as weakness. If they feel that the world is not going to stop Iran, maybe they will join them. And this is something that the world cannot afford. This is something that can change the new allies and the alliances in our region.

Talking about Iran let us speak about the Iranian long arm in Lebanon, Hizbullah. The facts are also clear, the Hizbullah is the proxy of Iran in the region. It does not represent any kind of Lebanese interest, it does not represent the interest of the people of Lebanon, or the State of Lebanon, and the interests of the moderate camps are also clear; to transform Lebanon into a sovereign independent state, which exercises its sovereignty on its entire territory. And the means are also clear, as it was expressed in two different Security Council Resolutions – 1559 and 1701.

And the goals are to dismantle the armed militia, Hizbullah – while using the International forces, in order to help the Lebanese government to do so.

Not less important is the prevention of Hizbullah’s armament and implementation of the arms embargo. This is part of Resolution 1559 and Resolution 1701.

And the threat is also clear, the armament and the strengthening of the Hizbullah threatens the Lebanese government; threatens the stability of the region.

The camps are also clear; Israel is on the same side with the moderates in Lebanon, because there is no conflict between Israel and Lebanon, and while we know what the goals are, we know what the camps are, we know that the right decisions were made by the Security Council, we can see some improvement on the ground, but yet, we have to take into consideration also that the two abducted soldiers, the two soldiers, the Israeli soldiers are not back home yet.

It is crucial to understand that the arms embargo is not being enforced properly, especially on the border between Syria and Lebanon. And there are International forces; they are helping the Lebanese army to deploy to the south part of Lebanon. Things are changing on the ground, but the international force is not working under the instruction to dismantle fully and completely, the Hizbullah.

Ladies and gentlemen, also when it comes to Lebanon, the free world is being watched, not only by Iran, not only by Hizbullah but by Israel. We will go from Lebanon in order to give the possibility for the Lebanese army and the international community to work together and to change the rules of the game, to change the situation in Lebanon, to transform
Lebanon into an independent state.
And, maybe for the first time, Israel agreed that it was a part of a process with the international community in accepting the international forces in Lebanon, not in order to defend Israel; we have our own forces to do so, but in order to help the Lebanese government to do the right thing. But this is also a kind of a test for those who want to be involved in solving conflicts in the Middle East.

When it comes to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the moderates share the same goal: the establishment of two states, living side by side in peace. It is important that we understand the nature, the essence of this goal, of this vision: two states, two different homelands – one is Israel, homeland for the Jewish people; the other is Palestine – homeland for the Palestinians. As Israel was created as the homeland for the Jewish people, as Israel gave refuge to the Jewish refugees, those who came from Europe – those who had to leave Arab states; so does the Palestinian state, is the answer, by its own and mere establishment, to the Palestinians, wherever they are, including the refugees. The establishment of a Palestinian state is the only answer; national answer to the Palestinians and this is the answer to what the Palestinians call the "right of return", or the "claim of return".

Living side by side in peace, clearly the meaning is that the future Palestinian state cannot be a terror state. The idea is that the future Palestinian state will not threaten Israel, because – ladies and gentlemen – a terror state is the last thing our troubled region needs; the world cannot afford it.

I can assure you that this vision of a “two state solution” – the idea of the establishment of a Palestinian state – is the vision and the aspiration of most of the Israelis. I can assure you that I represent here, not only this government, not only the current Israeli government, not only my party, but this is the goal, the dream and the aspiration of Israelis.

I can assure you that stagnation and stalemate is not only the Israeli government policy, we believe that time is working against the moderates but the only reason that there is no Palestinian state yet is not because of Israel’s unwillingness to make concessions, because we tried almost everything. We tried direct negotiations; final status negations, a process in stages and phases; unilateral steps. We tried everything, but in all of these roads, we took risks, and we have got terror in different and unimaginable ways in return.

So, our desire to make peace cannot come at a cost of risking our very lives.

Hamas does not represent the national Palestinian interest or aspiration – the moderates among the Palestinian represent this aspiration – Hamas is not. Hamas is not using terrorism in order to build a new peaceful Palestinian state, but in order to destroy the other, to destroy Israel.
Here too, the principles are clear as well as the way to implement them, and the Roadmap represents it.

In the Roadmap there is a political horizon, for the Palestinians and for the Israelis as well, but for the Palestinians – with a Palestinian state at the end of the road, but of course, there is a need to dismantle terrorist organizations at the beginning of the road, because we cannot afford another terror state.

These are also the requirements and the demands of the international community and the Quartet that was set after the elections in the Palestinian Authority more than a year ago, and these principals are crucial especially today, when the eyes of the free sorld were looking at Mecca. These principals are not obstacles for peace; these principals are needed in order to achieve peace and peace, I believe, is feasible and achievable.

I do believe in direct negotiations; I do believe that part of the way to strengthen the moderates is to give them the possibility to bring to their people, a political horizon. I am willing, I want to, to meet, to negotiate, to share ideas with the moderates on the Palestinian side but there is a need for a clear distinction between the moderates and the extremists

The willingness to discuss and to share ideas – to draw the political horizon for the Palestinian people, cannot come at the expense of the need to implement fully and completely, these requirements, because, ladies and gentlemen, these requirements are not negotiable.

The right, the first requirement, is the need for any future Palestinian government to accept the right of Israel to exist. Israel cannot and will not negotiate its own existence. Nobody can.

The second is the need to accept former agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and the former agreements between Israel and the Palestinians are the outcome and the results of tough negotiations and concessions on both sides. It is not a menu to choose from.

The third, and not less important, this is the renunciation of violence and terrorism. This is also not negotiable. This should be understood, especially here, in Munich, the place in which eleven Israeli athletes were killed, in a terror attack during the Olympic Games, in 1972; an event which should have represented the human spirit. The role of the international community is to say, loud and clear, that there is no justification to terror, because terror is terror, is terror. And the role of the international community is to stick to its strong principals, as were decided by the Quartet.

The role of the international community is to show determination, especially now, the role of the international community is not to make agreements with terror, but to show determination in order to force the extremists  to accept our own values and principals, in future agreements.

The role of the international community is not to legitimize terror with these kinds of agreements. Make them accept your – our terms. And it should be stated also, that the world will not be satisfied with vague formulas, especially now, when these extremists – when Hamas wants and needs the legitimacy of the world – these are the days in which the international community – the free world is also being watched and we cannot make mistakes, especially during these sensitive days.

All of us are eager, to see a peace process in the Middle East. Believe me, nobody wants peace more than Israel, but we should not be blinded by the desire to make peace.

We are all eager to see the cessation of violence in the short term. Believe me, nobody wants peace, cessation of violence more than we. But we cannot mortgage our future.

I did not say all of this in order to discourage, but being responsible needs sometimes, also to see what reality means. I do believe that peace is within our reach; it depends on our ability to work together, because I do believe that we share the same values and we share the same goals; we know how to achieve it.

I believe that the international community does not only face only new threats, but also new opportunities. Only if we work together, we can challenge these new threats, and let us embrace these new opportunities together.

Thank you.