Updated: 24-Oct-2006 NATO Speeches


23 October 2006

Conference on “NATO’s Transformation, the
Mediterranean dialogue, and NATO-Israel relations”

Address by Foreign Minister of Israel, Tzipi Livni


NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue
NATO Public Diplomacy Conference in Israel

His Excellency Ambassador Rizzo, Deputy Secretary General of NATO,
Professor Uzi Arad, Director Institute for Policy and Strategy,
Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, President IDC Herzliya
Distinguished Guests and Participants,

Opening Words

I would like to welcome to Israel Ambassador Rizzo, Deputy Secretary General of NATO, as a close ally.

NATO’s role in the past

We are in a world of unfolding and diverse challenges. In meeting these challenges, Israel and NATO are natural allies and partners.

NATO was established in the early days of the Cold War to defend democracy and to secure the freedom of the western world. As NATO played a key role in meeting the threats during the Cold War, so today NATO can lead the way in meeting the current threats.

NATO’s current role and strategy

Today, nearly two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face new threats – from Islamic radicalism, through global terrorism, to the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

NATO has to identify the up to date threats on the international agenda, make the necessary adaptations in order to play a significant role in meeting these threats and defend the values of the free world.

Diplomacy and the use of force – the correct strategy

The wise and just strategy was always a correct balance between the use of force and the encouragement of positive processes.

Diplomacy without the willingness to use force – in order to defend these values – is perceived as weakness, by those who use power to promote their ideology.

The new strategic threats threaten our values, our lives and the future of human society as we believe it should be.

From Nationalism to Extremism

Transformations in the world have influenced the types of threats which face us.

Traditionally, camps were divided by nationalistic trends and aspirations. Today, we can identify a common denominator which unites entities, which in the past were perceived as separate and even opposing sides.

The Hezbollah, El-Kaida and the Hamas – organizations which uphold extreme ideological views - and States founded on radical ideologies - like Iran - pose a threat not only to Israel – but to a wide range of countries including Islamic and Arab states.

In this context we must see the global terrorism phenomena. The ongoing terrorist attacks around the globe, from Cairo to Amman, from Bali to New York, all prove the fact that this battle is a global one, between the extremists and the moderates.

In this context, we must also understand the confrontation in the Middle East.

In contrast to the accepted opinion, the tension in the Middle East is not due to a local dispute about territories or borders. The confrontation comes as a result of this extreme ideology, and not a cause of it.

The most recent developments demonstrate that conflicts and threats cross borders and nations.

In addition to the threat of terror, we are threatened by a reality of rogue states seeking weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorism, and failed states which harbor terrorism and lack responsibility.

Rogue and failed states

The rogue states, founded on extreme ideologies, also operate terrorist organizations as messengers of their radical ideology, just like Iran and the Hezbollah.

There are those who perceive the Iranian nuclear threat as a single isolated problem. That is not the case. The Iranian threat will have a domino effect. A compromising attitude will increase the tendency, and we will find other states seeking nuclear weapons as a deterrence factor, and in order to defend themselves against the Iranian threat.

This will lead to further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist organizations.

Yet, with rogue states we do have an address.
With failed states the situation is even more complex.

The failed states lack the basic responsibility of a state – thus allowing evil elements to grow and prosper.

The objective of the confrontation in Lebanon was to create the conditions for Lebanon to exercise its full authority on its entire territory.

So also, Israel’s premise [or ambition] regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is to create a responsible state.

A state has responsibility for what occurs in its territory. States which renounce terrorism and accept the existence of other fellow nations are legitimate members of the family of nations.

The world cannot accept a situation by which a terrorist organization is regarded as a legitimate political partner, part of the governing entity of that country, while continuing its involvement in terror. The address must be clear.

This is true for the Palestinian Authority, for Lebanon and for other countries around the world which lack this responsibility.

We must establish a new system of cooperation – a system based on the cooperation of states. Perhaps we could call it a “state method of defense”, based on the states which share our values and principles, and take full responsibility over their territory.

Collective Security Approach

Israel’s traditional long term policy has been one of self reliance. In facing the challenges and threats of the new world, Israel believes also in a strategy of collective security. The current threats necessitate international cooperation and multilateralism. It should be said that a multilateral approach has its advantages and disadvantages.

In the most recent confrontation between Israel and the Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel was faced with this dilemma. Israel decided to cooperate with the international community in bringing stability and security to the region. This is a test case for the success of the multilateral approach.

Israel decided in favor of the international path, as part of its broader foreign policy to bolster Israel’s multilateral diplomacy. Israel should be far more engaged in global and Western institutions and international policy-making.

In this regard, It is also no secret that Israel preferred the involvement of the forces of NATO in Lebanon.

In meeting these strategic threats, NATO is most essential.

NATO specifically has a leading role, due to its just value system, its special ability to adapt rapidly to the current strategic threats, and also due to its unique approach of diplomacy combined with the use of military force, when necessary.

NATO and Israel

The alliance between NATO and Israel is only natural, due to Israel being the one and only successful democracy in the Middle East. As also, Israel and NATO share a common strategic vision.

In Israel’s vision, the cooperation between Israel and NATO should be based on two pillars. The first being - our bilateral relations. The second – the Mediterranean dialogue and regional cooperation.

Our bilateral relations have been further empowered by the most recent signing of the ICP (Individual Cooperation Program) between Israel and NATO.

Israel is looking forward to an upgrading of our bilateral relations, such that will reflect our common visions, values and threats.

In looking toward the future, Israel will be glad to cooperate and participate in positive NATO regional and local initiatives, among them: the Mediterranean dialogue; the like minded global partnership; and the inclusion of Israel in the PFP (Partnership For Peace) NATO program.
Israel’s efforts to enhance relations with NATO are part of its broader foreign policy to enhance Israel’s multilateral diplomacy. It is our hope that a broad international alliance will serve in meeting our strategic threats, and bring about a better world and a better future for us all.

These threats, aimed at Israel and the western-valued moderate community, position Israel more then ever before on the Euro-Atlantic side. In many ways, Israel is the front line defending our common way of life.

Thank You.

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