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Livni vs. Obama

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni: 'American Nuclear Dialogue With Iran At This Time May Send Message Of Weakness To Tehran & Arab World'

'It's Possible Israel & U.S Will Disagree On How To Prevent Iran From Acquiring Nuclear Weapons'

IsraCast: 'One Of Barack Obama's First Steps Should Be To Call For Urgent Halt To Genocide In Darfur, Sudan'

Tzipi Livni (Photo: Amit Shabi)

During the American presidential campaign, Israeli political figures were careful not to make any comment that might be seen as favoring either Barack Obama or John McCain. But now, Israeli officials are again voicing their positions on Middle East issues. This trend will likely continue as Israel's own election campaign gets under way.

'An American nuclear dialogue with Iran at this time may send a message of weakness to Tehran and the Arab world' - that's the view of Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni, the leader of Israel's ruling Kadimah  party. Livni said the Arab world does not always interpret American and European intentions, as they were intended. At the same time, Livni was confident that President-elect Obama was not ready to accept a nuclear armed Iran. But she went on to say 'It's possible we'll disagree over how to prevent Iran from getting the bomb'. In her view, a premature dialogue could also be problematic because it might lead Tehran to imagine the world has given up on sanctions.

The Iranian Missile Range

As for the Palestinian issue, the foreign minister believed the new Obama administration would adopt a policy based on the two state solution.

Likud leader Bibi Netanyahu, who is competing with Livni to become prime minister in the February 10th election, contended that his personal contacts with Obama and top American officials would be a key asset in the future Israeli-American relationship. Netanyahu was  confident in his ability to persuade the Obama administration that the Hamas takeover of Gaza had ruled out the two state solution. The Likud leader argued that developing economic cooperation with Palestinians in the West Bank was the way to move forward.

Cabinet minister Yitzak Herzog of Labour suggested Israel's objective now should be to make contact with the Obama transition team on the Middle East and to present them a detailed photostat of the current situation and Israel's various options. On the other hand, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit of Kadimah plays down the role of the U.S. and the Europeans in Middle East peace making. In his view: 'Israel does not need them as mediators - perhaps we know as much as they do about peace making with the Arabs'. Sheetrit was apparently referring to the Bush administration's pressure on both Israel and Mahmud Abbas to allow Hamas extremists to participate in the Palestinian election. After gaining power, Hamas carried out a bloody takeover of Gaza, launched  a new barrage of Kassam rockets at Israel and virtually torpedoed the peace process.

But above and beyond the politics of the hour and whether one favoured Obama or McCain, this too should be said about the overall Israeli perspective of Barack Obama's election. For the Jewish people, with its own indictment against history and its suffering as a minority without its homeland, Obama's election can also be seen as a victory for historic justice and the closing of the cruel and inhuman circle of slavery in America. In this light, what would be more fitting than for President-elect Obama to raise an urgent and forceful call to the world community to end the genocide being perpetrated on the African children, women and men in Darfur, Sudan.

Sudan: Darfur overview (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)


David Essing

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