After criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government at the start of the Knesset's winter session on Monday, Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni gave an interview to a Turkish television station, where she said, "The ties between Israel and Turkey are of a strategic nature, and as chairwoman of the Opposition, I hereby state that they are not related to the type of government ruling in Jerusalem, and there is no opposition or coalition in this matter."
Following Ankara's decision to call of the Israel Air Force's participation in a joint military drill, Livni told Turkish state television TRT, "We support the government's efforts to try and end the crisis. I believe that what is on the agenda here is not the Israel-Turkey ties, but the division between states in the region that understand what the real threat is, are threatened themselves by extremist bodies and cooperate together to defeat them."
On Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which took place during her term as foreign minister and led to the release of the Goldstone report which accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes, Livni said, "The Gaza operation was not aimed at Gaza or Gaza's residents. We left Gaza, we gave the Palestinians the option to build their lives there, we gave them hope, and in return we got thousands of rockets on our citizens.
"The operation was aimed at the rockets and those who fired them, and it was Hamas that chose to operate from among the civil population. The attacks, and the attacks alone are what led us to take action," she said. The January war led to a wave of extremist demonstrations in Istanbul against Israel.
"Turkey plays an important role in the region," the Kadima chairwoman continued, "The Israel-Turkey ties yield important results for Turkey and its interests, and not just for Israel – the military cooperation is important to you as well."
Addressing both the Turkish people and the Turkish leadership, Livni added, 'Supporting the war on terror is not an anti-Palestinian act. It is anti-terror. Hamas does not represent the national Palestinian aspirations; it does not work for them and does not promote them. The need to fight terror and extremist bodes is a common denominator between all the moderate powers in the region – and Turkey should be among them."
She continued to say, "I know that the images from Gaza were not easy, Hamas chose to operate from among the civil population, to hide behind civilians and fire at our children. There is an essential difference between someone who harms a child on purpose and someone who harms a child by accident during combat in civilian territory. The pictures are hard to look at, but the leadership must do what is right for its state, and sometimes this does not fall in line with the public opinion that is not always exposed to everything."
She added, "Turkey knows the importance of its ties with Israel, it knows it's in the same moderate camp with Israel, the moderate Palestinians and other Muslim countries, and the threat to Turkey is not from us. A leader, in any place, must ask himself who he identifies with, with which values and towards what goals.
"In all these matters, Turkey and Israel share a common denominator. The important ties between us can and should be directed at cooperation towards promoting joint goals, the first of which is advancing the region, and not hurting it with crises that can and should be solved," the former foreign minister concluded.