Livni in 2009: Syria Peace Means Ceding Land

When Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett accused Labor's Tzipi Livni on Sunday of changing her mind on the issue of withdrawing from the Golan Heights, from favoring it to opposing it, a heated confrontation resulted. Livni called him a liar and said that she had never called for such a withdrawal.

Who is right? You be the judge.

On CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, aired on August 3, 2008, the following exchange was recorded:

BLITZER: Would you be willing to give up the Golan Heights to reach a peace treaty with Syria?

LIVNI: Syria now, this is now not even the beginning of direct peace talks between Israel and Syria. But, this is indirect talks in order to find out whether this is possible.

And it's important for the Syrians to understand that peace in the region doesn't mean only embassies or getting territory from Israel. But, it means that they need to change their destructive hold in the region.


BLITZER: Excuse me for interrupting. But, if they were willing to do that, to reach out and to make full peace with Israel along the lines of Egypt and Jordan, would you be willing to give up the Golan Heights?

LIVNI: Wolf, my habit is not to negotiate with interviewers in Israel, or elsewhere.

The idea of peace means of course, territorial concessions. But, it is more important to understand that peace means that Syria should stop now their transfer of weapons from Syria, to Lebanon, to Hezbollah. The support of Syria of terrorist organization including headquarters of Hamas in Syria. Their connections with Iran doesn't help.

So, since this is a point in which we need to find out whether Syria is serious in terms of peace, the most important thing right now, is put all of this on the table, not only by Israel, but the entire international community and ask Syria whether they want peace negotiation just to get legitimacy from the international community. Or, are they serious enough and in order to show that they're serious enough, they need to stop what they are doing right now, you know, in supporting all these terrorist activities in the region.

In a Haaretz interview with Ari Shavit held in January of 2009, Livni was asked again: “Would you leave the Golan Heights in return for a full peace agreement with Syria?”

Livni replied: "Peace with Syria can change the extremist-moderate balance in the region. There is a strategic goal here, which transcends the ceremony of opening an embassy and eating hummus in Damascus. It is clear to me that peace with Syria means territorial concession. I believe in direct negotiations. But in my view the Syrians received international legitimization somewhat prematurely, before they contributed anything. The test is the Syrians' readiness to disengage completely from the axis of evil and terrorism."

Livni was Israel's foreign minister in the government of Ehud Olmert, which held several rounds of indirect talks with Syria, with Turkish mediation. She replaced Olmert as head of Kadima in late 2008 and was defeated by Likud under Binyamin Netanyahu in the elections that were held in early 2009. 


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