REPORT ON JNF UK EVENT WITH TZIPI LIVNI ON NAKBA DAY, MAY 15TH 2014
SUMMARY OF SPEECH BY THE ISRAELI AMBASSADOR, DANIEL TAUB
Daniel Taub recently Israelis have commemorated Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Day), Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance Day for Israeli soldiers), Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) and Yom Yerushalyim (Jerusalem Day). These days are the first new days to be added to the Jewish calendar in the last 2000 years. Jews are re-entering history.In the rubble of the Warsaw Ghetto was found a JNF blue-and-white box. The people sent to the Warsaw Ghetto were told only to take their most valued possessions with them, so this must have been included among a family's most valued possessions.Israel is a miracle - a miracle with a fair number of challenges.The demonstrators outside are a group of people that has wiped Israel off the map. Their maps do not show Israel.Tzipi Livni is the woman who has done more to try to reach peace than anyone he can think of.SUMMARY OF SPEECH BY SAMUEL HAYEK, CHAIR OF JNF UKJNF is turning the desert green and building new communities. It is improving the lives of all residents of the Negev, regardless of their backgrounds. Israeli farmers in the Negev are facing daily attacks. JNF is the glue that binds Anglo-Jewry to the State of Israel.We face a relentless, well-organised and well-funded propaganda war to delegitimise Israel.He is delighted to see that the Israeli Bedouin diplomat Ismail Khaldi is in the audience tonight.It is not for our communal leaders to openly criticise the elected government of Israel. It is both irresponsible and unjustified to criticise Israel. The Israeli government has made tremendous efforts to achieve peace.He is proud and privileged to welcome Tzipi Livni, who will be interviewed by Douglas Murray after her speech.SUMMARY OF SPEECH BY TZIPI LIVNI, JUSTICE MINISTER OF ISRAELDaniel Taub referred to days in the recent past, but she wants to refer to yesterday: May 14th, which she personally regards as Yom Ha'atzmaut. May 14th is the day that Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state. Her parents were the first couple to get married in the State of Israel, on May 14th 1948. Her parents met, very romantically, while robbing a British money train in order to get money to buy weapons - as the Minister of Justice, she feels a bit embarrassed at telling us this. Both were in prison and they both escaped from prison. They were in the Irgun. Her parents were freedom-fighters, not terrorists. She is not willing to accept the comparison between freedom fighters who do not want to incur civilian casualties and those who attack civilians. She is very proud that she made decisions to defend her own people against terrorists. She has put her own "Wanted" picture on her wall at home, next to the "Wanted" picture of her father that was issued by the British.There is no hope of peace with Hamas. They may be prepared to accept Israel's actual existence within the 1967 borders, but they refuse to accept Israel's right to exist and they refuse to renounce violence. She felt frustrated, even angry when Abbas signed the reconciliation agreement with Hamas.Israel is facing threats. We live in a tough neighbourhood. We need to recreate the Zionist vision of a secure Jewish and democratic State. What does it mean to be a Jewish State? It means keeping Jewish values, but does not mean giving a monopoly to the Orthodox parties (loud audience applause). It means giving rights to minorities in accordance with our Jewish values. It means fighting hate crimes, fighting for equal rights for all, but it also means that Israel is the nation-state of the whole Jewish people.She is the chief negotiator in the peace talks. Her parents believed in Greater Israel. This is engraved on their tombstones. But we need the Jewish majority. We need two states for two peoples. This is the only way we can be a Jewish and democratic State. Giving everyone Israeli citizenship means that Israel could become an Arab or binational State.Oslo was a failure because the final status issues were not addressed and left till later. We need the entire package and the end of the conflict. We need to tackle all the final status issues. We have a legal and moral right to the entire land, but her choice is for Israel as a Jewish and democratic State. Any Israeli leader has difficult decisions to make. We built more and more settlements, but they take up only a small percentage of the West Bank. We left Gaza but got only terror in return - so any agreement needs to take security into consideration.We need two States for two peoples. Each State will provide an answer to the national aspirations of each people. In 1947, the UN decided for a Jewish State and an Arab state - in fact, not a Palestinian State (sounds of agreement from the audience). Israel provides the answer for the entire Jewish people. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. The creation of the Palestinian State will be the answer to the Palestinian problem. It will be the answer for the Palestinian refugees. It will also be the answer for the Palestinians within Israel. They will have equal rights as Israeli citizens, but their national aspirations will be fulfilled in the Palestinian State.Defining borders: we need to annex the blocs of settlements. The Palestinians will need some land in compensation.The future Palestinian State will be demilitarised. We need to define what this means.Jerusalem and the holy places: another difficult question to negotiate.She feels that she is negotiating on behalf of the Jewish people, not only on behalf of the State of Israel.Secretary of State Kerry is a man who is not willing to take no for an answer.In July last year, they agreed on confidence-building measures. Israel agreed to release prisoners and the Palestinians agreed not to go to the UN Conventions to use them against Israel.Building settlements was not against Israel's agreement with the US.There needed to be compromises on both sides. There were problems with releasing the last tranche of prisoners and we asked Abu Mazen to wait till we could release them. But he refused to wait and went to the UN. How would you feel if you were about to pay a debt but had a few problems and asked the debtor to wait a little while and he refused? Israeli compromises are not all that is needed. The Palestinians need to make compromises too. (Loud audience applause).There is a huge gap between Israel as it is and the image of Israel abroad.She will end with a story that Arik Sharon once told her. When he was a small child, he was working with his grandmother in a field. He said: "Stop - I'm so tired and there is so much more to do". She said: "Instead of looking ahead to see how much we have to do, look back and see what we have achieved."TZIPI LIVNI INTERVIEWED BY DOUGLAS MURRAYMURRAY:It's wonderful to have you back in London. But after what you have said, how can we hope for peace?LIVNIIn 2005, Abu Mazen told Condi Rice that Hamas would only get 20 per cent of the vote in the Palestinian elections. But Hamas won.People say: how can you negotiate with Abu Mazen when he doesn't represent all the Palestinians? This may seem a contradiction of our refusal to negotiate with him after his reconciliation with Hamas. But Abu Mazen himself would say that he really represents all the Palestinians. And Hamas brings in the religious perspective. Abu Mazen only brings in the national perspective. Hamas needs to accept the right of Israel to exist and to renounce violence.But the peace talks are not over. There is only a pause.I have doubts that the PA and Hamas will create a government.MURRAYThere is a lot of fatigue about the peace process. How do you break through that fatigue?LIVNIThe vast majority of Israelis support two states for two peoples. But some think there is no partner for peace. Many Israelis have been born into this situation. Some think it can't change. I joined politics in 1995 and left two years ago. In the last election, no-one was talking about peace - only social problems. But the price of peace is less than the price of not making these decisions. The world is going to turn against us more and more unless we make these decisions.MURRAYYou are quoted as saying recently that "the settlements make it impossible to defend Israel around the world." Do you still think this?LIVNIAs a young girl, I celebrated the settlements. One vision is Greater Israel. Those who want this are in the minority. The majority of Israelis believe in two states for two peoples. We are asked: "why do you build in places that will not be part of the State?". A settler said to me recently: "You are going to reach the point of no return, when you can't remove the settlements".MURRAYWhy does the BBC go on about settlements but says nothing about Hamas indoctrination of children to kill Jews?LIVNIIsrael is a small state surrounded by enemies. The BBC sees Israeli soldiers and tanks threatening Palestinian children. They do not see the big picture of Israel as the David threatened by the Goliath of the region. Thank God, Israel is strong, but we are the David of the region.AUDIENCE QUESTIONSOnly a few were allowed. They included:1) How much freedom did you have in the negotiations?*LIVNINetanyahu's representative was in the room. At first I found this difficult, but we are partners now.2) What is Israel doing about Iran getting the bomb?Livni never actually answered this and the meeting was closed.
There were actually 4 questions allowed but two of them were too mad for my man to note. One was leaning in the direction of the international community abolishing the concept of human rights and the other claimed that Israel is the size of London (which might be true in population terms but even London has clearer boundaries than Israel) so why can't those enormous Arab states take in "their own".
*That was Jonothan Hoffman.