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Israel's New Foreign Minister The Daughter of a Terrorist

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Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, whose father was labelled a terrorist by the British for his membership of the Jewish underground, said the Palestinan elections which Hamas won "do not legitimise the terror organisations".

Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni arrives at 10 Downing Street in London for a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Livni insisted that Israel did not want to "punish" the Palestinians for the radical group Hamas's victory in parliamentary elections.

Israeli ‘ruler-in-waiting’ plans to starve Hamas By Leonard Doyle, Foreign Editor


Published: 02 March 2006

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. Despite her closely held dream of a Greater Israel, she maintains that she has long been a centrist on the national question. Raised in a hardline Likud household, Ms Livni has an ideological pedigree that is hard to top.

“My family is part of the founding history of Israel,” she has said. Her father’s gravestone bears the inscription, “Here lies the head of operations of the Irgun” – refering to a pre-independence military organisation set up to fight the British and the Arabs. The stone also bears a carved map of Greater Israel extending to the opposite side of the Jordan river.

A former Mossad officer, Ms Livni is the daughter of Zionists – classified as terrorists by the British authorities. Her father, Eitan, was the Irgun’s head of operations when it blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing 28 Britons, 41 Arabs, 17 Jews and five others. The subsequent wave of terror attacks he led outraged British public opinion, leading the government to abandon the Palestinian Mandate and turn the problem over to the UN, with disastrous consequences for the Palestinians.

Ms Livni rose to become a lieutenant in Israel’s army before joining its foreign spy agency Mossad when she was 22. During her time at the agency it was involved in a failed assassination attempt on the Black September leader Abu Daoud. In 1981, her first year as a foreign spy, Mossad arranged the destruction of a nuclear reactor Saddam Hussein was building at Osirak.

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.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (right) shaking hands with British Minister of State Kim Howells in central London on Thursday. (AP)

“Israel always valued its friendship with Britain. We share the same principles, the same interests, and in my opinion, we also share the same path – the right path – in order to deal with those challenges."

AFTER King David explosion,
July 22 1946

The King David Hotel bombing - it was only the southern wing that was blown up, a part of the hotel that had served as army headquarters since 1940. The hotel received a 30-minute warning but British administrators refused to evacuate the site.The King David Hotel was the site of the British military command and the British Criminal Investigation Division.

On July 22, 1946, the calls were made. The call into the hotel was apparently received and ignored. Begin quotes one British official who supposedly refused to evacuate the building, saying: "We don't take orders from the Jews."


The Washington Post

Q& A: Tzipi Livni, Israeli Foreign Minister;
'There Will Be Two States'

You grew up in a hard-line Likud household?

Today was the memorial for my father. I just came from the graveyard. On his gravestone is written, "Here lies the Head of Operations of the Irgun -- the underground that fought for the establishment of the State of Israel." And on his tombstone he left us the map of Greater Israel -- with both sides of the Jordan Valley being part of Israel.

Many ask if territorial compromise is against my father's ideology, and I say he taught me to believe in a democratic Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people where all people enjoy equal rights. I came to the conclusion that I cannot implement all of my ideology. I have to choose and my choice was to implement the ideology of a homeland for the Jewish people with equal rights to all the minorities in the land of Israel, but [the homeland will be ] only in part of the land of Israel.

You decided you can't rule over another people?

It's against my values.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

February 5, 2006 Sunday

Israel's Top Envoy: Lawyer Who Evokes Meir


Tzipi Livni, 47, is the first woman to serve as Israel's foreign minister since Golda Meir did so half a century ago. Some think she may be the first since Ms. Meir to be prime minister.

Tall, neat and unadorned, she is a most unusual Israeli politician, a lawyer respected for integrity and her willingness to confront ideology with pragmatism.

But she is also a deeply Israeli figure, the daughter of Zionist guerrillas -- terrorists in some eyes -- who met in the Irgun, the underground organization that fought the British and the Arabs, and that blew up the British headquarters in the King David Hotel in 1946, killing 91 people.

Her father, Eitan, was the Irgun's head of operations, and on his gravestone is the map of greater Israel, extending over both sides of the Jordan River; her mother, Sarah, who lives in Tel Aviv, was an Irgun heroine who had a song written about her.

She grew up part of Likud's royalty as a child of what is known here as a ''fighting family,'' and in a series of interviews she was quick to defend Likud's mentor, Zeev Jabotinsky, for his dream of a Jewish state with equal rights for non-Jewish citizens. She spoke of learning, as a child, his five ''M's'' for the new state -- they translate as housing, food, clothes, education and health.

But what makes Ms. Livni extraordinary for many here, and what made her such an ally to Mr. Sharon as he fought with Likud and finally broke with it, is her ability to honor the dream while shaping it to reality. ''I also believe, like my parents, in the right of the Jewish people to the entire land of Israel,'' she said. ''But I was also raised on other values, the need to preserve Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, and our democratic values. It's not any less important that Israel be a democracy, and there must be a Jewish majority.

''So choosing between my dreams, and my need to live in democracy, I prefer to give up some of the land and to live in a sovereign, Jewish, democratic state,'' she said. ''But it's important to do it wisely.''

Her commitment to a two-state solution predated her late entry into politics. She served in the army, becoming a lieutenant, and at the age of 22 began working for the Mossad, the intelligence service, where she stayed for four years. She does not discuss those duties. ''It was wonderful,'' she said, laughing. ''But it taught me skills I cannot use.''

The Mossad, suggests Shlomo Avineri, a political scientist at Hebrew University, brought her into contact with a world that did not always conform to her ideologically driven childhood and allowed an intellectual journey much like that of the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, the cosmopolitan lawyer son of another Likud family.

''In the Mossad,'' Mr. Avineri said, ''you get a reality check, or a reality shock.'' While the parental generation was ostracized by its ideology -- Likud did not come to power until the late 1970's -- the children, like Ms. Livni, have become integrated. ''It's a journey from pariah to the establishment,'' Mr. Avineri said. ''There's less anger and bitterness and more responsibility.''

Her conclusion that Likud's ideology was outdated was a painful issue with her mother. ''There were times I didn't want her to watch me on television saying, two states for two people,'' Ms. Livni said. ''But once she told me: 'Listen, I hear you. It hurts me. But I understand that maybe we fought for the establishment of the State of Israel, and it's your duty to do what is right for generations to come. And if there's no choice, I can accept it.' ''

This is a story Ms. Livni has told before. But it is still delivered hesitantly, and her eyes become moist. Her own teenage sons -- Omri and Yuval -- do not have the same burden, but may have less connection to tradition, she said with ambivalence, adding, ''My sons can quote 'Seinfeld' by heart.'' Her parents came to Israel in 1925, but the Holocaust, she says, ''is still part of our lives.'' Israel, she says, ''is knowing you were established from the ashes -- it's the fear that something will happen. It's looking at your children and thinking, 'Are they grown enough now to survive?' ''

The world, she said, ''thinks of us as the neighborhood bully, but we are only thinking in terms of surviving, of the existence of the state.''

Copyright 1992 Times Newspapers Limited
The Times

Obituary, February 5, 1992

Eitan Livni

Eitan Livni, a leader of the Irgun, the militant Jewish independence movement in British mandated Palestine, has died in Israel aged 72. He was born Yerucham Bzozowitch in Gerodna, Poland, in 1919.

ON THE night of April 2, 1944, a few dozen Jewish insurgents sabotaged railway stations and bridges along 25 miles of line in Palestine. They belonged to the Irgun group, headed by Menachem Begin, which had begun a campaign of iolence against the British administration in Palestine at the beginning of that year.

On their retreat, after accomplishing their mission and losing two of their men in cross-fire incidents with the army, the insurgents found themselves encircled by British soldiers of the 6th Airborne Division on the dunes of the Mediterranean coast. They had no alternative but to raise their hands. The British were not immediately aware that among the captured men was Eitan Livni, the commander of the operation who had been on the British wanted list for several months. He was a member of the Irgun high command and Begin's righthand man.

His arrest was a blow to the clandestine Jewish movement, which was more offensive in character than the Hagana, the mainstream underground Jewish group which as its Hebrew name declars was more defensive. Livni together with 31 others, was tried in Jerusalem by a military court on June 27, 1944, and sentenced to 15 years.

His imprisonment was one of the reasons for the Irgun's decision to launch its most militarily spectacular anti-British operation: the attack on May 4, 1946, on the crusader fortress at Acre. The fortress, which was being used as a prison by the British, had successfully withstood a siege by Napoleon's forces in 1799 when it was in Ottoman hands and had been captured by Allenby in 1918.

The Irgun assault on the fortress was a finely coordinated operation involving action both inside and outside the prison, explosives having been smuggled in beforehand. Livni masterminded the operation inside and the escapees included 30 Irgun men, 11 members of the Stern group an extremist breakaway group from the Irgun and many more Arab prisoners. Away from the fortress however they encountered a group of passing British soldiers and in the battle that ensued nine Irgun men were killed.

Livni then resumed his leadership role in Irgun, in spite of being hunted by the British, and in August 1947 was dispatched by Begin to organise Irgun's military activities against British targets in Europe. He returned nine months later on May 15, 1948, the day the British withdrew from Palestine and modern Israel was declared.

In the war that then began with the Arab forces Levni led the first Irgun battalion into the newly-formed Israel Defence Forces and was a commander in one of the fiercest battles against the Arabs in the Sharon district east of Tel Aviv.

Following independence Livni became chairman of the Irgun veterans organisation but in the 1970s, as a result of pressure from Begin who was by this time the leader of the parliamentary opposition, he was elected a member of the Israeli Knesset. He remained there for three terms and helped to bring about the rightwing Likud coalition which gained power in 1977.

Livni, renowned for his integrity and humbleness, was not very much at home as a politician however. He regarded his years during the anti-British armed revolt in the 1940s as the most important period of his life and kept his underground name Eitan. In his autobiography, published in 1987, he refused to write about his life after the independence of Israel declaring: ''Nothing which I have done afterwards could have been compared to the days of the rebellion which I and my friends have experienced in battle and prison.''

He is survived by his wife, Sarah, and three children.

LOAD-DATE: February 6, 1992

Copyright 1992 Times Newspapers Limited
The Times

February 11, 1992, Tuesday

Eitan Livni

From Louis Heren

WE SHOULD always be charitable to the dead, but Eitan Livni (obituary, February 5) was not a leader of a militant Jewish independence movement. The Irgun Zwai Leumi was a terrorist oganization, and a particularly nasty one. Even its defenders, who argued that the end could justify the means at decisive moments in history, were horrified by the massacre at Deir Yassin and the hanging of the British sergeants.

THE capture of Eitan Livni by the 6th Airborne Division occurred on April 2, 1946, not 1944 as stated in the obituary.

Sat Feb 18, 2006 8:44 pm
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