Now that an interim nuclear deal with Iran has been signed, Israel must achieve a final status agreement with the Palestinians quickly in order to present a “new front” with Arab countries against the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, justice minister and chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni said on Tuesday.
The international deal with Iran, announced over the weekend, was “far from perfect” but was already a fait accompli, Livni said, speaking in the Knesset to a gathering of the Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Israel must do all that it can to prevent the deal between world powers and Iran from becoming a permanent arrangement in which Iran will remain a nuclear threshold state, she added. This meant Israel must maintain good relations with the US despite the two allies’ differences on resolving the Iran crisis.
The Geneva deal gives the West and Iran six months to come to a permanent agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, Livni noted, “which is also what is left for negotiations with the Palestinians, based on the nine-month formula to achieve a final status agreement.”
These two issues are “critical and crucial” for Israel’s future, and are not isolated from each other, Livni said. If “we solve the conflict with the Palestinians and reach an agreement, we can create a strong and significant new front with Arab countries against Iran,” the justice minister predicted.
Without solving these issues, Israel is in danger of becoming an “isolated state” whose “Jewish and democratic character” is under threat, she said.
In her address, Livni also praised the recent election of Isaac Herzog as Labor Party chair and the new leader of the opposition. By electing Herzog, Labor “chose not to ignore diplomatic issues,” Livni said in a reference to former Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich’s focus on socioeconomic issues during the parliamentary elections last January. Livni called on the new Labor leader to join her in an “ideological covenant” to advance the two-state solution, even if Labor continues in the opposition.
The interim deal signed between Iran and the West, announced early Sunday morning in Geneva and heavily criticized by Israeli officials, stipulates an easing of some economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on and increased oversight of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program for a six-month period leading to a final agreement.