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A Conversation with Tzipi Livni

Speaker: Tzipi Livni, Member of Knesset and Head of Opposition; Chair of the Kadima Party; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
Presider: Jacob Weisberg, Editor, Slate Magazine
May 5, 2009, New York, NY

The video below is of Israeli Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni addressing an audience at CFR on May 5, 2009.

In her speech, Livni says that while the Middle East is increasingly divided between moderate and extremist actors, she sees growing opportunity to foster regional stability. Iran's belligerent rhetoric and pursuit of nuclear technology has caused parts of the Arab world to conclude that "Israel is not the enemy anymore, but Iran is the enemy," Livni says. With moderate Arab states sharing common goals with Israel, Livni perceives an opportunity to foster greater regional stability by neutralizing the threat posed by Iran as well as achieving progress on the Israeli-Palestinian question.

Livni emphasizes her view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is primarily guided by questions of nationalism and that ending the conflict will not end extremist Islamic sentiment within groups like Hamas or states like Iran. Yet resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is vital to the interests of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, Livni says. She says the best way to preserve Israel's status as both a Jewish state and a democracy is to create a separate Palestinian state. This, she says, can only be achieved with pragmatic Palestinian leaders who value national aspirations over extreme religious ideology: "This is not a national conflict with Hamas," she says. "This is a religious conflict, and this is not solvable."

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