The Smiling Face of Israel's Tough Foreign Policy
Leonard Doyle Foreign Editor, The Independent (London, England)
She is already being spoken of as an Israeli leader in waiting. Today the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni brings to London the campaign to destabilise the incoming Hamas Palestinian government by starving it of cash.
Israel's policy - described by a spokesman as putting "the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger" - has left London feeling squeamish. Tony Blair and Jack Straw will today undoubtedly show solidarity with Israel, saying Britain is not in the business of funding terrorists. But in private there is anguish that the policy will bring malnutrition to innocent Palestinians and punish them for taking part in a democratic election. The Palestinians are completely dependent on foreign aid for their survival and Israel's campaign to put 3.6 million people on starvation rations is foreboding.
The EU announced on Monday that it would provide EUR120m (pounds 85m) in emergency assistance to prevent financial collapse, but has kept silent on what it will do once Hamas takes office. Britain is encouraging the EU to pay salaries directly and bypass Hamas.
Ms Livni's hardline views were displayed earlier this week when she said that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was "irrelevant" and could not be permitted to become "a fig leaf for a terrorist entity".
US policy is to prop up Mr Abbas at all costs and Israel's interim ruler Ehud Olmert quickly stepped in to clarify Ms Livni's remarks, saying he hoped the Palestinian President would stay in office.
Ms Livni, 47, has made a considerable political journey from her early support for a Greater Israel to realisation that the country cannot remain a democracy while occupying Palestinian lands and ruling over a population that despises it. A teenager born to a nationalist family, she was nearly arrested for violently protesting against Henry Kissinger's ill-fated shuttle diplomacy. …