An Evening With Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni was in London last week for official meetings with Foreign Minister William Hague and other British foreign office representatives, and an unofficial meeting with Mahmoud Abbas. For the latter initiative, she was roundly condemned by the right-wing of Israel’s coalition who, for once, were not able to spy on her during negotiations through Netanyahu’s special adviser, Yitzhak Molcho.
While in the United Kingdom, Livni found the time to address a packed house of Jewish National Fund supporters at a central London venue. The fact that this venue happens to be an Arab-owned hotel meant that word of the meeting soon got around to “the usual suspects” – probably even before the actual guests. Consequently, a barrage of hate demonstrators rallied near the hotel entrance with the intention of harassing and insulting anyone attending the meeting. Fortunately, representatives of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland were there, proudly waving the Israeli flag in defiance.
The meeting was opened by Daniel Seal, a board member of the JNF, who pointed out to the audience that among the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto, a “blue box” for collections had been found. Since those deported to the Ghetto were warned to take only essential possessions, the JNF collecting box represented an essential item to someone, and the JNF thus had a duty to continue the work of the Jewish philanthropic tradition.
Seal was followed by Samuel Hayek, chair of the JNF Charitable Trust, who welcomed the guests and introduced Minister of Justice and chief negotiator with the Palestinians, Tzipi Livni.
Livni spoke fluently in English about her past (her parents, members of the Irgun Zva’i Leumi, met while robbing a British train in Palestine) and her hopes for the future. She explained that in her present role, it is very hard to negotiate with people who repeatedly demonstrate their bad faith (Abbas agreed not to approach the UN with further demands for recognition of Palestinian institutions, then did exactly that; suddenly signing the agreement with Hamas, for which negotiations must have been continuing for months behind Israel’s back). But, as she said, it had to be done.
As a former lawyer mostly involved in real estate negotiations, she looked on Oslo as a framework agreement. But, as she pointed out, all contracts require a consideration on both sides, and so far Israel had been making all the concessions while the West Bank Palestinians had made none and, of course, Hamas is still promising to destroy Israel.
She has great hopes for the future, she said, and when she looks back at how far Israel has come and what it has achieved in such a short space of time, she ended, “I am so proud!”