After having thanked Ms. Tzipi Livni for having accepted the invitation of the Foreign Affairs Committee, President Axel Poniatowski recalled that the Minister had received him, the year before in Jerusalem, along with the other members of the delegation sent by the Committee and headed by President Edouard Balladur. He suggested that she begin with a brief statement on the situation in the Middle East and the relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, before answering questions by the members of the Committee.
Ms. Tzipi Livni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, declared that she was very honored to be the first foreign minister of a foreign country received by the Committee under the 13th Legislature.
She emphasized the phenomenon of radicalization which is currently affecting the extremist elements present in several countries of the region, under the influence of an Islamic movement which is developing within the Hamas, the Iranian state and Hizbullah, the latter being directly linked to Iran and representing Syrian and Iranian interests in Lebanon. In confronting this phenomenon, Israel and the moderate Arab and Muslim states of the region can conduct a common struggle. Although the existence of this threat is very upsetting, is at least opens the possibility of new alliances in the region.
All of these states share common interests and identical objectives regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; all of them are confronted with the same Iranian threat. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the cause of this rising extremism; nonetheless, this phenomenon is helping to keep going. The Gulf states, Egypt, the Maghreb - like Israel - oppose Iran's possession of nuclear weapons and the Hamas influence in the Palestinian territories. Like Israel, they favor a stable and sovereign Lebanon, in which the army - and not armed militias - would control the territory; like Israel, they support a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, based on principles accepted by all.
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On the subject of Iran, Ms. Tzipi Livni stressed the fact that the world cannot allow itself to allow Iran to hold nuclear weapons, and would therefore have to exert pressure in order to prevent it from doing so. The French position, which is quite firm on this point, is highly valued in Israel. France has been able to translate its perception of the gravity of the situation into a clear international position, by contrast to other political leaders, who too often take uncompromising positions, but fail to give them any external manifestation.
All of Iran's neighbors favor the position adopted by the international community; the latter, however, will have to avoid any hesitation, which could be interpreted as a sign of weakness. A nuclear Iran would generate an arms race, not only among the states in the area, but among terrorist organizations as well.
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After having thanked the Minister for her presentation, President Axel Poniatowski expressed his wish to obtain the Minister's evaluation of the internal situation within Iran. Has the policy of sanctions against Iran proven to be efficacious? Is the present regime showing signs of weakening?
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In her reply to the President, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made the following statements.
First of all, as far as Iran is concerned, she indicated that the question of the solidity of the present regime had been asked at the same time as the UN Security Council discussions with regard to the implementation of sanctions. At the time, Russia had considered that the application of sanctions would be pointless, as demonstrated by the limited efficacy of this policy in the case of North Korea. Several voices had spoken out in support of that opinion, considering that, in any event, the Iranian authorities were not taking public opinion into account and were determined to follow their policy to the bitter end.
Today, the policy conducted by the Iranian leaders is truly intolerable. Not only are they not prepared to abandon their desire to possess atomic weapons; they have also publicly expressed their support of the destruction of another state - a position which is unacceptable for any member of the international community. The Minister added that the initial invitations to dialogue had actually only been aimed at gaining time, until the nations of the world found themselves at a point of no return.
In this context, Ms. Tzipi Livni declared that the implementation of sanctions had considerable significance, especially to the extent that this decision would enable the addressing of a clear message to the Iranian leaders. She expressed a wish for the adoption of a new resolution which would establish new, more stringent sanctions. Unfortunately, the means and procedures for the adoption of such measures, which require a unanimous vote by the Security Council, are helping to weaken the range of the sanctions decided upon. Compromises are arising which adversely affect the efficacy of these sanctions - as indicated, for example, by the present impossibility of listing the Guardians of the Revolution among the terrorist organizations to which sanctions may be applied. She concluded by pointing out that important decisions will have to be made in the course of time and recalling that certain states have already decided to adopt additional sanctions against Iran, on a bilateral basis.
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Mr. Jean-Michel Boucheron approved the Minister's definition of two nation-states, which seems to him to constitute the basis for any discussion. On the other hand, he declared his disagreement with the Minister regarding the supposed Iranian threat to Israel, irrespective of the absolutely scandalous statements made by the Iranian President. Waving this threat around only hides the real problems.
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In reply to these comments, the Foreign Minister Livni asked Mr. Boucheron if he really thought that Iran was not a threat for Israel, to which Mr. Boucheron replied that he stood behind his statement.
Ms. Tzipi Livni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, then stated that, when a leader announces so clearly that he has the intention of destroying Israel and that, at the same time, he is on the point of acquiring nuclear weapons, there are real reasons for concern.
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