Magazine article Newsweek International

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Magazine article Newsweek International

No Headline

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From Hawk to Dove

A daughter of the Irgun becomes Israel's leading peacenik.

By Dan ephron

Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister, returned to politics last month for one thing: to help forge a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. Among center-left parties competing in the country's national election on Jan. 22, Livni's is the only one to put the peace process at the top of the agenda. And yet, in an interview with Newsweek, she admitted that even she worries an accord may no longer be within reach. Her doubts stem mainly from changes that have taken place in Israel and the region since she last negotiated with the Palestinians four years ago. "I cannot say that an agreement is just around the corner," she said at the Tel Aviv headquarters of her new party, Hatnua. "It's very complicated." On the Arab side, Livni said, popular uprisings that brought Islamic parties to power have raised fresh doubts about the region's willingness to accept the Jewish state and strengthened the rejectionist camp in the West Bank and Gaza. In Israel, while most people are ready to abide a Palestinian state, ceding land has become synonymous with rocket attacks since the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. "The idea of giving territories to live in peace became in Israel a kind of, you know, the naive thing of the left wing," she said.

Livni did not start out as a peacenik. Both her parents were prominent members of the Irgun, a right-wing paramilitary group that staged attacks against both British administrators and Palestinian civilians before Israel's founding in 1948. She began her career with Likud, the party of hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but tacked toward the center after Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. As a top member of the centrist Kadima party in 2008, Livni took part in the most serious stab at peace with the Palestinians to date, but says the two sides simply ran out of time. …

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