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Livni. 'Jews must remember shared identity'
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Livni: Israel not a rabbis' monopoly
Foreign minister addresses UJC's General Assembly in Jerusalem, says 'Jewish state is the nature, tradition and history of our people, regardless of what one chooses to do at one's own home on Shabbat and holidays'
Israel is not a religious state but mainly a nation-state, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Wednesday in a speech at the 2008 United Jewish Communities' General Assembly held at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

 

"Israel is not a monopoly of rabbis," the Kadima chairwoman noted. "Israel is a Jewish state, but a Jewish state is not a religious state but mainly a nation-state."

 

She explained, "We must not forget Israel's ultimate goal to be a Jewish, democratic state living in complete security. A Jewish state is the nature, tradition and history of our people, regardless of what one chooses to do at one's own home on Shabbat and holidays.

 

"We were no clear enough when we defined the new sabra (native-born Israeli) we are proud of," Livni said. "Being an Israeli is not only speaking fluent Hebrew and completing one's military service – although a complete military service is important – but emphasizing Jewish education, tradition and history. This is what connects between Jews in Israel and worldwide."

 

The premiership candidate added that the Jews must remember their shared identity and focus on their external problems as well as the internal ones.

 

"We must understand that we all share the same values and tradition and that we must deal together with the same challenges we are facing: Against global extremism and Iran in particular.

 

"Iran represents radical Islamism. It fails to fight for rights or for solving conflicts, but creates conflicts on its own with the goal of preventing us from existing as a country.

 

"The war on anti-Semitism, which has raised its ugly head across the world, is as important. The Jewish communities are not the only ones responsible for this; all world leaders are. Such incidents represent the society they take place in."

 

The conference was held under the banner of "Tikkun Olam" (making the world a better place), and Livni used her speech to call on the hundreds of representatives of Jewish communities present at the event – including many donors – to immigrate to Israel.

 

"What remains is to translate the vision into a concrete plan. Imagine what we can do together and how we can change the global perception of Israel," she said.

 

'Continue peace process uninterrupted'

Turning to the diplomatic issue, Minister Livni said that "when Israel advances diplomatic processes, like we did at Annapolis, it can come to the world and say, 'The decisions are our to make, and ours only.'

 

"We will advance the process ourselves, and the world won't impose solutions and concessions which will not benefit Israel. Only an Israeli leadership which acts this way will be seen as a partner by the new US administration and will receive cooperation."

 

Moving on to the Durban World Conference against Racism, Livni stated, "I made it clear at the beginning of the year that Israel would not take part in the Durban conference and will not legitimize it, unless it is proven that it would not serve as a stage for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activities.

 

"The documents presented to us so far clarify that the conference will once again turn into an anti-Israel tribunal, regardless of the real goal of fighting racism. Therefore, I have decided that Israel will not take part in the conference and will not legitimize it, and we call on the international community not to take part in an event which will be legitimizing hostility and extremism."

 

The foreign minister told the audience about Israel's efforts to obtain a peace agreement with its neighbors, and about the essence of such agreements.

 

"The Israeli interest is to lead to a situation of two states for two people. And we are not just talking about two independent democracies, but about two different nation-states.

 

"Israel is a Jewish state, and the other state will serve as a complete solution for all the Arab demands, including the right of return. There will be no return into Israel," she clarified.

 

Livni added that the peace process should be the result of an Israeli initiative rather than the result of international pressure.

 

"Peace is not just a piece of paper. When we face the international community we must clarify that the interest of a protected Israel with complete security will be maintained, not just on the papers of the agreement.

 

"We shall not throw the keys to the other side and say goodbye. We must make it clear that Israel is advancing peace and that stagnation is not the solution. We will clarify that we are making peace not because we're being told to, but because it's our interest.

 

"We must continue the process uninterrupted, in a bilateral move. This is the responsibility of the two relevant leaders, not of the entire international community," she concluded.

 

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