The existence of a democratic State of Israel dictates the need to maintain a Jewish majority, and as of now, sacrificing part of the Land of Israel. Protecting the existence of such a state dictates the establishment of another state for the Palestinian people.
Summary of lecture by Tzipi Livni, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice and Minister of Immigrant Absorption
to the 6th Herzliya Conference
[Published by the Institute for Policy and Strategy, Herzliya; translated from Hebrew]
I was asked to sum up the Arab-Israeli conflict, and I will attempt to provide my point of view on the subject. The ability to arrive at a solution to the problem is, at the end of the day, dependent on the objective, both of the process and of the conclusions of today’s conference. Israel’s decision must be based on the situation, on our outlooks, and on our ability to convince the international community of our legitimacy.
There are two goals that can be outlined: one speaks of the need to preserve Jewish existence in the Land of Israel, and the second of the existence of a sovereign democratic state in the Land of Israel. The nature of these two goals leads to different conclusions. Physical existence is first and foremost an issue of security. The existence of a democratic state dictates the need to maintain a Jewish majority, and as of now, sacrificing part of the Land of Israel. Protecting the existence of such a state dictates the establishment of another state for the Palestinian people.
There is a difference in our estimations. We must ask if time is on our side or not. For he who wants to ensure the existence of the Jewish state, every day that passes is a triumph. From his perspective, time is working for us. From the perspective of he who aims to preserve the existence of a Jewish and democratic state, time is against him. Our commitment is to find solutions while preserving our way of life in a secure state. Time is working against us also in the view of the international Jewish community; our path is eroding with time. Today it seems as though the world outlook is not supportive of the existence of Israel as a Jewish national state. If some of us are not convinced in two states for two nations – when this idea is taken off the international agenda, it will already be too late. We should ask what would happen today if the decision of the 29th of November would be on the table of the U.N.
Another disintegration of the path could happen as a result of the Palestinian refugee problem, not only of 1967, but also of 1948, as an element of a permanent solution. Just as the state embraces every Jew that wants to come here, this needs to be done within the concept of the Palestinian state. If we leave this issue open, we are damaging ourselves in the long term and we will lose sight of our goal – the State of Israel as a nation-state.
The first formula that needs to be accepted is a state vs. refugee issues. Two nation-states eliminate the issue of the refugees. Whoever hasn’t proclaimed this until now needs to proclaim it since we need to say “yes” to a Palestinian national state.
The second aspect deals with the need and the responsibility to make sure there will not be a physical existential threat to the State of Israel. We must ensure that the peace process will not result in the existence of a terrorist state. The Road Map that established the political prospects identifies a national state as a final goal, but the process is divided into stages. The first stage was the commitment to disassemble terrorist organizations and democratization. Currently, there are elections in the Palestinian Authority and so there is seemingly a democracy. This is not the case. I will beat all those who point a finger at Israel’s involvement in the PA to the chase – the results of the election will not only affect the Authority, but also Israel. We can’t help but confront this. The nature of democratization in terms of democracy according to the European model does not allow the participation of parties involved with terrorism to be elected or to run for parliament. My request from Europe is to apply their rules to our region as well. There was an opportunity to present each party with the option of giving up on their terrorist ways. But Abu Mazen said that we are not allowed to implement these standards, so the order was reversed – allow elections so that the parliament will be able to pass such legislation. I say this now because the international community sees the PA elections as elections with strings, the opportunity to fight in terrorist activity.
I assume that in the period after the elections we must demand an upholding of these commitments. There will be an attempt to argue “why not.” Certainly we will start hearing voices claiming that you are to come armed to the parliament but not to the cabinet. Or, they will claim that it is possible to maintain a situation of two arms, or to camouflage terror in various outfits. It is noted that the ideas that came along with Jimmy Carter set in the Charter that Hamas’s participation in the elections damages the legitimacy of the elections.
We should accustom ourselves to speaking in terms of the long term and in terms of the day after. I have spoken of the principles that need to accompany us throughout the whole process of reaching an agreement, because only with their help we can advance. Today it does not seem it is possible to solve the conflict. This is an estimation of a pessimistic situation and not a criticism. The Road Map provides political prospects to the Palestinians. We would have been able to be within the first stage of the Road Map, but we decided not to do this. We initiated the Disengagement which can potentially open another window of opportunity. The State of Israel is seen as the ultimate naysayer, and in the framework of the Disengagement we sent the message that we are serious and think that this is the thing to do and are prepared to evacuate settlements. I hope that this window of opportunity will not close in the near future.
If I spoke of the first formula of a state and refugees, the second formula is borders and settlements. When borders are established it will clearly be Israel on one side and no settlements on the other. I am not including Jerusalem in the picture; this will be discussed in the future.
Our parameters are first and foremost the security of Israel, preservation of Jewish sites under the sovereignty of Israel, such as Jerusalem, and the preservation of settlement blocs. I am a big believer that our ability to influence the Israeli national agenda rests in our ability to identify a common agenda between Israel and the Palestinians. If we can show that our claims will aid the international community, it will be easier for us.
I hope that, as with all other tasks dependent on us, we will have the strength to make correct decisions and to implement them.