Tzipi Livni: ‘Kerry cares about Israel’

After his public attack on Israeli policies in West Bank, justice minister and chief negotiator comes to secretary’s defense

John Kerry and Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem in March 2013. (photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy/Flash90)
John Kerry and Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem in March 2013. (photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy/Flash90)

Justice Minister and chief Israeli negotiator with the Palestinians Tzipi Livni came to the defense of US Secretary of State John Kerry Friday morning, after he launched a very public attack on Israel’s West Bank policies during an interview with Channel 2 Thursday.

Kerry is a man who “cares about the State of Israel,” Livni told Israel Radio.

“He believes that a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is critical for the security of Israel and in general. He invests a lot of time, effort and heart in this matter. And he speaks from the heart. He’s not saying these things to attack Israel,” she went on.

“He’s saying: ‘Friends, when you’ve got an Intifada and terror on your hands, there are those who say OK, there’s terror, and we will not talk to terrorists.’ And I think he’s saying that the quiet is temporary and it’s important for Israel, for the State of Israel and its citizens, to do it [negotiate a final agreement],” Livni added.

The justice minister also spoke about Iran and a possible nuclear deal taking shape between the P5+1 world powers and the Islamic Republic — a deal of “limited” sanctions relief in response to an Iranian agreement to start scaling back nuclear activities — saying that an easing of sanctions would lead to an agreement that’s less desirable.

US officials said Kerry will fly to Geneva on Friday to participate in the ongoing negotiations between the P5+1 world powers and Iran — a last-minute decision that suggests a deal could be imminent.

Netanyahu has described the possible offer to Tehran as a historic mistake and “a deal of the century” for Iran.

In an interview with NBC Thursday night, US President Barack Obama said that an interim deal with Iran could provide “very modest relief” from international sanctions and that the bulk of them would remain in place.

“There is the possibility of a phased agreement in which the first phase would be us, you know, halting any advances on their nuclear program, rolling some potential back, and putting in place… some very modest relief, but keeping the sanctions architecture in place,” Obama said.

“We don’t have to trust them. What we have to do is to make sure that there is a good deal in place from the perspective of us verifying what they’re doing,” he added.

According to Britain’s Telegraph, the deal’s four main points were that Iran would stop enriching uranium to 20 percent and convert its existing stockpile into harmless uranium oxide. Iran would be able to continue enrichment to 3.5% purity necessary for nuclear power plants — but would agree to limit the number of centrifuges running for this purpose. The inactive centrifuges would be able to remain intact. Iran would also agree not to activate its plutonium reactor at Arak, which could provide an alternative route to a nuclear weapon, during the six-month period in which Iran will limit uranium enrichment to 3.5%. Lastly, Iran would agree not to use the advanced IR-2 centrifuges, which enrich uranium three to five times faster than the older model.

In return, the British paper reported, the US “would ease economic sanctions, possibly by releasing some Iranian foreign exchange reserves currently held in frozen accounts” and ease “some restrictions on Iran’s petrochemical, motor and precious metals industries.”

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