Remarks by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to the Foreign Correspondents Club in Japan (Excerpts)

January 18, 2007

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Let us start with Iran. Iran is a threat, not only to Israel; it is a threat to the world. But of course, it is a threat to the region. This is not only my personal understanding; this is not the Israeli understanding. This is also the understanding of many moderate states and neighbors of Iran.

Iran's ideology is based on extreme Islamic ideas about building a new reality in the region. Their goal is not only to write Israel off the map, but to change the situation in the region. And there is an understanding by the neighbors of Iran that the new threat in the region is not Israel, it is not even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the Iranian threat.

It is clear that even if we solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the near future, and I hope that we do, Iran is not going to change its ideology. It is not at all based on the national aspirations of the Palestinians; it is based on its extreme Islamic fundamentalism.

So, when it comes to the Iranian threat, which is a combination of a regime and leadership, whose president talks in terms of wiping Israel off the map, denying the Holocaust, mocking the Holocaust, calling upon Europe to absorb the Jews again, this is not only a threat to Israel.

We are talking about leaders who talk about wiping a state off the map, we are talking about the denial of the Holocaust, this is something unacceptable - not because of Israel, because this is against the values of the international community. This is against what the free world believes in, this is against the nature of the United Nations, which is an organization that was established after the Second World War with the idea of changing the world. So this is something which is the international community should stop.

I believe that the international community should respond in two ways. One is to say clearly, that this is unacceptable.

And, until now, I have not even referred to Iran's nuclear program. This, too, is a horrific combination. The international community should take all the necessary steps in order to stop this nuclear program. It is clear that the world cannot afford a nuclear Iran. Most of the international leaders have said so. But it is important that the leadership of the international community will translate these statements from words into action.

We have had two Security Council Resolutions; the last one - for the first time - placed some sanctions on Iran. But it is too soft; I hope that the international community will not hesitate to take more steps in order to stop Iran in its nuclear program.

The problem is not only Iran. The problem is a kind of domino effect that can happen if Iran gets nuclear weapons. And this is something which is not just an Israeli concern, but as I said before, something that concerns all the moderates in the region, and the entire world.

In our region, when there is a bully in the neighborhood, the other states have to decide whether they should beat them or join them. What we might then face is the proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction in other states as well. We can already see the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist organizations.

There are connections, right now, between Iran and some of the terrorist organizations - Hizbullah is one and the Hamas is the second. And this kind of domino effect can influence some of the other states which are currently part of the moderate camp because they have to decide whether they will promote their own nuclear program, in order to defend themselves, or whether they are going to try to appease Iran.

So, right now, any kind of hesitation from the international community can affect or impact this camp of moderates. We, the international community, are being watched, and it is crucial that the international community take the right steps, without hesitation.

This reality was also reflected last summer, in Lebanon. There is no conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Israel was attacked by the Hizbullah - this is a militia organization, a terrorist organization - the proxy, the long arm of the Iranians in the region. They do not represent any kind of Lebanese interest; they represent the Iranian interest in the region. Thus, the goal of their extreme ideology is to maintain an open front with Israel, from Lebanon, for the benefit of Iran.

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