Women in the World

03.09.12

Livni on Iran: Let’s Hope Sanctions Work

Israel's opposition leader told Simon Schama that the Iranian threat is against all of the free world—but that she believes peace is possible.
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Should the United States and Israel bomb Iran? Over the past few months, as more evidence has emerged that the Islamic Republic might be harnessing nuclear technology for military purposes, that question has been on the minds of many from Washington to Tel Aviv (not to mention Tehran).

Yet for Tzipi Livni, Israel’s opposition leader, it is a question that should be handled behind closed doors.

“I don’t like this megaphone diplomacy,” Livni told Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s Simon Schama at the Women in the World forum on Friday. “Maybe this is something that men do?”

Nevertheless, as Schama respectfully pressed the former Israeli vice premier about the nature of the threat, Livni said it was indeed grave, but implied that patience was a virtue.

“Time is of the essence,” she said. “Now we see another stage in terms of sanctions and hopefully it will be more effective. The Iranian threat is against the free world. It’s not [just] an Israeli problem”

One thing that could help the situation, Livni said, was to focus on a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Currently, negotiations remain at a standstill, but Livni said that progress on creating a Palestinian state could help Israel broaden its coalition and remove an issue that the Iranians use, she said, to foment radical support.

“I believe peace is feasible,” she said. “Solving the conflict with the Palestinians by a two-state solution is in the Israeli interest.”

Unfortunately, Livni said, since the Iranian nuclear issue came to the forefront, the United States appears to have backed off pressuring the two sides to meet.

The White House, she said, is “not doing enough to jump-start negotiations.”

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Marc Bryan-Brown

When asked about what appears to be a rising tide of discrimination against women in Israel, Livni was equally blunt.

“It’s not about feminism and women’s liberation” she said. “It’s about a clash of civilizations inside of Israel—between ultra orthodox and secular. The discrimination against women is just one part of this.”