Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Livni makes fleeting mention of Jewish refugees

At the Annapolis conference Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni made a fleeting mention of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, but did not stress that they had been resettled by Israel, only that they 'longed for Israel'. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not mention Jewish refugees at all, but empathised with 'Palestinian suffering'.

Update: Livni's worlds now appear to have been misreported by Ynet News. See Canadian Jewish News of 6 December.

"I did not come here to argue whose cause is more just," said Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni to the audience of high-profile delegates in one of the last speeches delivered at the Annapolis peace conference."Our hands are extended in peace to the entire Arab world without exception," she continued, going on to ask Arab nations to relinquish the use of the 'Naqba' (The Disaster) in referring to Israel's birth.

Do not weep for the creation of Israel, she asked of the Palestinians, build your nation and Israel will join you in your joy for its establishment. (...)

"Livni spoke of the "thousands of years" of history tying "my ancestors" to Israel and her personal belief to the Jewish people's right to the land – "now it is time to talk of another right – the right of our children to live in peace."

The foreign minister noted that the two-state solution was far from being a new idea and recalled the 60-year anniversary of the historic UN vote to partition then British-mandate Palestine into two nation-states.

Palestinian refugees, wherever they may be, she said, long for this nation-state just as all the Jewish refugees forced out of Europe and Arab countries longed for Israel.

Livni also urged Arab nations to step-up efforts to combat terrorism. "That should be the main focus of the world leadership in general and the Arab and Muslim world in particular. This is a decisive moment, a moment where we must all choose sides. And this is no longer about Arabs on one side and Jews on the other. In this one camp are all those who sit here today; Jews, Muslims and Christians, Israelis, Arabs, Americans and Europeans.

"Those who chose not to come here, those are the nations that support terror and radicalism; those who invoke God to sow hatred and send children to be killed."

Livni said that while Israel is interested in normalized relations with all Arab nations, it would not be forced into paying for recognition. "I have heard those who say that Israel must pay for normalization of ties with Arab states. That concept - where normalization is a prize of sorts, which has to be 'given' to Israel only after a comprehensive peace is achieved between it and its neighbors – that, gentlemen, is a mistake," she said.

Read article in full (Ynet News)

In The Jerusalem Post David Horovitz reported that Ehud Olmert's words empathising with 'Palestinian suffering' marks the first time any Israeli leader has shown 'understanding for Palestinian terrorism':

"Israeli leaders down the decades have rightly blamed the Palestinian leadership and the wider Arab world for the ongoing plight of Palestinian refugees and their descendants in blighted refugee camps. But Olmert, strikingly, empathized with their suffering - their "wallowing in poverty, neglect, alienation, bitterness and a deep, unrelenting sense of deprivation." He even said he knew that this "pain and deprivation is one of the deepest foundations which fomented the ethos of hatred towards us."

"This is a remarkable statement, and certainly comes closer than any other mainstream Israeli leader has ever moved toward showing understanding, though not justification, for the Palestinian argument about the roots of terrorism."

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