I am receiving this portfolio for the transition period until the elections, but we cannot permit ourselves to view this period as one of transition or to rest until Israel’s elections.

On 18 January, 2006, Ms. Tzipi Livni assumed her office as Foreign Minister of the State of Israel. At the ceremony in the Ministry marking this event, she made the following statements regarding relevant foreign policy issues:

Ostensibly I am receiving this portfolio for the transition period of a number of months until the elections, but we cannot permit ourselves to view this period as one of transition or to rest until Israel’s elections.

First of all, in the Middle East there is never a dull moment. Imagine to yourselves where we were a month or two months ago and where we’ll be in another week or ten days. Beyond the elections in the State of Israel, this period is critical with regard to the question of our ability to reach some kind of an agreement with the Palestinians; to live with them in peace or to advance some kind of process, for in parallel to the election period in the State of Israel, in exactly one week elections will be held in the Palestinian Authority.

The truth is that the elections in the PA were supposed to be part of the process of democratization in the PA – but they are not. This is because there is no democracy in the world that permits terrorist organizations to participate in elections. The Europeans would not let this happen in Europe, for they learned the lesson of the 1930s, when the Nazis exploited democracy there. The Americans also did not let this happen elsewhere, wherever they passed other constitutions, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There was a window of opportunity following the disengagement process that Israel created, and a choice should have been set before the Palestinians. We should have told them that this is the meaning of democracy and you should choose it, not go to the polls with weapons, and not come armed to parliament, and not go armed to the government.

But the Palestinians came with a different claim to the international community and said that they need these elections in order to provide legitimacy in the war against the terrorist organizations.

So our objective now, even though the PA elections were supposed to complete the process of dismantling terrorism, and even though the situation has become one where the elections are part of the process that is supposed to lead, so they say, to the dismantling of terrorism – our commitment today is to make it clear at home, but particularly to the international community, that this process has not been resolved and the Palestinians have not been released from their commitment to dismantle the terrorist organizations. For this is the time, and our only chance to use this window of opportunity that we have created by the disengagement process, to use the Roadmap – which itself can be a move full of risks. But if we know how to use it wisely, and the Palestinians on their part know how to use it to advance their commitments and fulfill them, then we can lead both peoples to a better future. […]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs plays a central part in the defense of Israel. I know it sounds dramatic, but the State of Israel is fighting for its existence – in part this is a war for its physical existence, but part of this war is being fought in the diplomatic arena.

In the diplomatic arena, we all hear the statements coming out of Iran. These statements are unthinkable, and they are unthinkable to all, not only to minds that think in Hebrew.

We have in recent years witnessed an insidious process of the delegitimization of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. We have seen anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head – and this, my friends, is the concern not only of the State of Israel, not only of the Jewish people, but of all the nations of the world; for this first of all reflects on the society in which anti-Semitism dares to raise its head.

It is against all of this that we must fight, and the Foreign Ministry is the spearhead in this battle.