UN Security Council Resolution 1701 reflects the interests of the State of Israel.
1. Interview with FM Tzipi Livni, Channel 1
– August 12, 2006
(translated from Hebrew)
Yaakov Ahimeir: We welcome Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni to our studio. Good evening. And in our studio in Tel Aviv, our political correspondent, Ayala Hasson
FM Livni: Yesterday was a very dramatic day. We started it in an uncomfortable situation. We had reached a situation in which we had to announce that we would not accept the resolution. But in the course of the day, there were changes that enabled us to support it. And today it reflects the interests of the State of Israel.
Yaakov Ahimeir: Ms. Livni, do you believe that the military campaign could have been completed in two days, or a few days after it began? That perhaps there was no need for further military advance and that political negotiations could have started earlier?
FM Livni: The campaign has not been completed yet, and, therefore I don’t want to answer theoretical questions. The campaign did not end after three days, and this is where we stand today. As far as I’m concerned, and I explained this during the operation, I thought that it would have been appropriate to begin the political process immediately when the battle started, for a simple reason: It was clear that the objectives we wanted to achieve could not be achieved through military action, no matter how successful. Therefore, I felt it was important to initiate the political process as early as possible. It is true that the climate at first was a kind of "You give us time and we will do the job." I thought otherwise and therefore, at the same time, started working.
Ayala Hasson: During the cabinet meeting, you complained to representatives of the army that, in fact, early announcements of the operation tied your hands politically and did not leave you any other choice but to vote in favor, because had you voted against it, it would have been construed as damaging Israel’s power of deterrence. Can you clarify this for us?
FM Livni: Usually, I don’t talk about cabinet meetings – to me, the discussions are confidential. I will only say one thing about the power of deterrence. Part of the campaign and our decision to engage in military action, which was indeed the correct decision on the night of the kidnapping, was because it was time to show Hizbullah that we will not take their activities quietly: their invasion into Israeli territory, kidnapping and killing soldiers, the Katyusha attacks. Israel’s power of deterrence experienced ups and downs, over time. At first, it was successful; then, later, as the fighting developed, we found ourselves in less convenient positions. And this perhaps relates also the point of withdrawal, which in my opinion should have been when our power of deterrence was at its peak. It is true that when one wakes and reads the headlines, when it seemed that the army wanted to do something specific and our actions were being watched by the outside world, not only by the citizens of Israel, who are extremely important to me, but by the entire world – including Syria, Iran, Hamas and the Palestinians – at that point in time, to say that the government does not provide the army with the freedom it needs would have been construed as political weakness. And I didn’t want to go there.
Yaakov Ahimeir: You yourself say, Ms. Livni, that everybody is looking at us: Syria, Iran, other countries. And when these countries look at us and at our performance, or at the IDF’s performance, perhaps even our political performance, what conclusion should they draw?
FM Livni: First of all, it is clear that the original decision to launch the operation, was not only the right decision, but from their point of view, clearly changed the rules of the game.
Yaakov Ahimeir: I’m asking about performance, from the decision onwards.
FM Livni: I really don’t want to get into how the forces should attack or from which direction, or how it looks from the outside. I know what the results are today. And the results today depend on the process. If what will happen is what is written in the Security Council’s resolution, we are then at the beginning of a new order in Lebanon, with a very strong international involvement, with an international understanding that it is impossible to place decisions on the shelf and not implement them. That is why I am optimistic, assuming that the resolution will be implemented. At the end of the day, the question is whether today we are in a better position. We are in a better position, but at the moment it is only at the declaratory level. It will be some time before we know for sure whether we have changed the rules of the game in Lebanon.
Ayala Hasson: Minister Livni, there is criticism about the performance of the political echelon. Some criticize the Prime Minister, others the Minister of Defense, and there are those that criticize you. I’d like you to comment on each of those who are being criticized. What do you say about the criticism of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Defense and of yourself?
FM Livni: I imagine that the criticism varies and comes from different people. I only want to say one thing: We all have to remember, that one way or the other I am part of this government, and therefore we all have a joint responsibility. If there is something we shouldn’t be doing now is to start pointing fingers at those sitting next to us. At the end of the day, the responsibility is the collective responsibility of the government, even if at this time each one of us thought differently during one decision or another.
Yaakov Ahimeir: Ms. Livni, are you pleased with your own performance as Minister of Foreign Affairs during the war?
FM Livni: The public should be the judge of that.
Yaakov Ahimeir: Do you feel that you have managed to make an impression during this crucial time for the State of Israel?
FM Livni: The public should be the judge of that. I know that I acted based on my convictions. To be effective and make decisions, you don’t always do that with interviews – on the contrary. If I will sit here in the studio and say that I support certain thing, I would lose my ability to exert influence on them. The result is that today there is a decision that in my opinion serves the interests of the State of Israel. It is the result of very hard work, not only mine, but also of other people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the result is good for Israel. Beyond that, we are judged every day by the public.
Yaakov Ahimeir: Thank you very much, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni.
2. Interview with FM Tzipi Livni, Channel 2
– August 12, 2006
(translated from Hebrew)
Yonit Levy: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, good evening. There is an agreement, Israel approved it. Why do we keep advancing into Lebanon?
FM Livni: First, there is a UN resolution that Israel intends to comply with based on the government’s decision. The army requested it, and we insisted on it during the decision making process, that there be no vacuum, that there be no situation whereby the IDF would withdraw and Hizbullah would return before the Lebanese army and the international forces would be deployed. That is why the army asked to improve its position in the area and create better conditions, for both the Lebanese army and the international forces.
Gadi Sukenik: The government confirmed that it is ready for a cease-fire. What is it instructing the IDF to do?
FM Livni: I understand the confusion and I’ll try to explain. Part of our efforts in the process of adopting the UN resolution was that there would be no immediate cease-fire, that the moment there is a UN resolution everybody would stop – the IDF would return home and there would be a vacuum. There was a very complex debate about that and the decision was that the IDF will remain in its positions, and start to leave Lebanon only when the Lebanese army and the international forces arrive. By the way, since we knew that Nasrallah would claim that in that case he is allowed to continue to attack IDF forces, the decision states that Hizbullah should immediately cease all attacks, not only on Israel and on civilians, but all attack.
Gadi Sukenik: What will actually happen now? Tomorrow at midday the government will decide on a cease-fire. Will the IDF be told to hold fire?
FM Livni: The army asked for a few hours, we agreed. It is clear that we will not be caught in a violation. This was conveyed in conversations I had yesterday with both Condoleezza Rice and Kofi Annan, so that we can provide the army with the time it needs, which I believe is until Monday, to deploy in areas where the soldiers will not be under attack by Hizbullah. That was the only request by the army, and we provided them with a window of time to reorganize.
Yonit Levy: Do you mean to say that you needed a month of battle, 125 Israelis killed, a month during which people remained in the shelters so that, eventually, an agreement would be reached according to which there is no commitment to return the kidnapped soldiers, which does not provide a mechanism for disarming Hizbullah? For that you fought for a month?
FM Livni: First, I do not concern myself with the question of what are the points in time at which it was possible to achieve an objective – that’s something that can be done later. What I do know is that at this point in time this UN resolution is a good decision for Israel, and I will explain why in principle. We have to compare with our situation a day before this began. It is true that there was a UN resolution that all of us cited in TV studios, Resolution 1599, which stipulated that the government of Lebanon had to enforce its sovereignty over the entire Lebanese territory and disarm the militias; that decision was shelved. The Prime Minister of Lebanon engaged in a sort half embrace-half discussion with the Hizbullah. Today, the resolution is coming off the shelf and is being translated into action, including new things that it did not contain before, like an embargo on arms to Hizbullah, an embargo on any country that provides them with arms. This is something that is very difficult for the UN to accomplish vis-à-vis Iran. Look how long it is taking the UN with the issue of atomic weapons. In effect, what we have today is an enforceable and applicable resolution.
Yonit Levy: Based on a request by the Lebanese government.
FM Livni: The embargo has nothing to do with the request. The embargo is permanent, as well as the decision to deploy the Lebanese army. For years Israel wanted the Lebanese government to deploy its army, but nothing happened. As for the international forces, we have to see who they will be.
Yonit Levy: Minister Tzipi Livni, thank you.