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Israel's Livini blasts Obama's Iran plan
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La Livni dà già ordini ad Obama: “Trattare viene visto come segno di debolezza” dai musulmani, razza inferiore.

- Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni attacked U.S. president-elect Barack Obama on Thursday for declaring a willingness to talk with Iran about its nuclear program.

"We live in a neighbourhood in which sometimes dialogue . . . is liable to be interpreted as weakness," Livni told Israeli Radio, expressing a view held by many of her countrymen.

Asked if she supported discussions between the U.S. and Iran, Livni said: "No."

The comments from the new leader of the governing Kadima party came just before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the official Iranian wire service, IRNA to send an unexpected note of congratulations to Obama on his victory.

But Ahmadinejad, who has threatened to use nuclear weapons against Israel, included a warning to Obama that because "the opportunities bestowed upon people by God are short-lived," the next U.S. president should "make the most of the chance of service and leave a good name by preferring people's real interests and justice to the insatiable demands of a selfish and indecent minority."

Livni's interview about Iran underscored how seriously Israel regards Tehran's nuclear ambitions and how worried many here are that Obama may not be as staunch an ally to the Jewish state as President George W. Bush, who has sometimes been described here as the best friend that the country has ever had in Washington.

Livni's comments come as Israel prepares for its own national elections, which are to be held on Feb. 10. Livni is in a close fight with Likud's hawkish leader Benjamin Netanyahu to become the next prime minister and neither can appear to be soft on security questions.

The outgoing Israeli government's position on Iran is similar to Washington's. Both favour tougher sanctions, but have refused to rule out military force if Tehran does not renounce its nuclear development program. Obama has stated that he, too, is strongly opposed to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons but the president-elect has said he wants to try to talk with Tehran first before deciding whether tougher measures are warranted.

Israel "fears that any U.S.-Iranian grand bargain could come at its expense in terms of an arms control regime that could be detrimental to Israel or in terms of American policy on the Palestinian issue," wrote Jonathan Rynhold of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in an article published Thursday. "Israel is concerned that the Iranians would simply use the dialogue to buy time, as they have done with the Europeans for years."

Livni met Thursday in Jerusalem with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had just arrived from the U.S. on what may be her last visit before the current president leaves office in January.

Rice, Livni and Palestinian Authority negotiators are to attend a meeting in Egypt on Sunday with the so-called Middle East Quartet, which comprises Britain, Russia, France and the U.S. The gathering is to discuss progress on the Annapolis peace process, which is backed by the Bush White House.

"I've learned never to predict in this business," Rice replied when asked whether a peace deal could be concluded in the next two months, "but it is clear we're in a different situation now because Israel is going to elections."

While anxious over Obama's position on Iran, Israel was also buzzing on Thursday over the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Obama's chief of staff.

Emanuel's father is an Israeli-born doctor. The younger Emanuel, who is a congressman from Chicago and a longtime friend of Obama's, received what Israeli media described Thursday as a conservative Jewish education. He is said to speak some Hebrew, was a volunteer working with the Israel Defense Forces during the first Gulf War in 1991 and has been a frequent visitor to the country.

by Matthew Fisher, Canwest News Service

Source >  Ottawa Citizen | nov 06

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