Israeli Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni Sides With Obama on Settlements


During a plea for American Jews to join Israelis in a dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leader of Israel’s opposition party Tzipi Livni sided with President Obama Sunday night on extending the freeze on settlement building in the West Bank.

“We need [Israeli] leadership that understands that this vision is not a gift or gesture to the United States,” the Kadima party leader said about dividing the land when lecturing at 92nd Street Y.

She added: “I don’t see myself as giving up something to the Palestinians. ... I see it as gaining something.”

While Livni didn’t state President Obama’s name directly, she defended his stance in renewing the Jewish settlement moratorium in the Palestinian territory and support for a two-state solution.

“When a president says there needs to be an end to the conflict with two states, he is not being anti-Israeli,” she said.

The former foreign minister and self-described moderate also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has not renewed the moratorium, to “make the right decisions to resume a deal.” The settlement freeze expired Sept. 26 and Palestinian leaders are threatening to abandon peace talks.

Addressing an auditorium of mostly American Jews, Livni lectured the audience and then answered questions e-mailed to 92nd Street Y in advance. The settlements were a popular topic.

The Israeli said she hopes the event “is the beginning of a new dialogue” between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora, inviting their “criticism with love.”

In a call for unity, Livni said too many define being Israeli as “speaking Hebrew and serving in the army. “

“This is not the common dream that used to be between Jews in Israel and the Jewish community abroad,” Livni said.

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