Israeli FM addresses Arab world in Qatar

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni addressed 500 representatives of the Arab world in Qatar on Monday, urging them to recognize the real obstacles to peace between the Jewish state and the Palestinian Arabs and to help provide constructive solutions.

Addressing her audience as the keynote speaker at the 8th annual Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, Livni noted that "peace requires historical reconciliation," and suggested that most of the Arab states have yet to join Israel in educating their populations for peace and coexistence.

More specific to the Palestinian front, Livni indicated that Gaza had been surrendered as a test case, and that the Palestinians have proven there that they remain the obstacle to the conclusion of a final status peace agreement establishing a fully sovereign Palestinian state.

Virtually ignoring the points made by Livni in her speech, the emir and Qatar and the foreign minister of Oman said in separate private meetings with the Israeli that they would like to see Jerusalem halt its efforts to prevent and combat terrorism emanating from Gaza and to accelerate its acceptance of Palestinian demands in order to facilitate a peace deal by the end of the year.

The only fireworks at the conference occurred when Israeli Arab Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi, who arrived as the self-labelled head of the "Palestine" delegation, blasted Livni during the Q&A session following her speech for referring to Israel as a democratic nation. Tibi insisted that Israel, in referring to itself as the "Jewish state," would be better described as an apartheid state.

Responding to the attack, Livni explained that Israel's democratic values were evident in the fact that Tibi is an Israeli Knesset member representing 20 percent of the country's population, deputy speaker of the Jewish state's parliament, and is free to travel where he wants and say what he pleases, even to the extent of viciously attacking his own government.

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