Israel Tells UN: Set Standards for Participation in Genuine Democratic Elections

[Ministry of Foreign Affairs] Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni told the UN General Assembly on Monday: The conflict in our region is driven by those who seek power without responsibility; those whose aim is not to realize their own rights, but to deny those rights for others. At its heart, this is a conflict not about territory, but about values. As we have proven in the past, we are prepared for the territorial compromise that lasting peace entails. But we also know - especially after withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza - that territorial withdrawal by itself will not bring peace unless we address the core clash of values that lies beneath the conflict. Extremists - opposed to the very ideals of democracy - are entering the democratic process not to abandon their violent agenda but to advance it. As a spokesman for al-Qaeda recently declared, "We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy." This should be a wake up-call for all of us. It is time to reclaim democracy, and this begins by rejecting those who abuse it. Genuine democracy is about values before it is about voting. No true democracy on earth allows armed militias, or groups with racist or violent agendas, to participate in elections. Violent extremists, who could never run for office at home, are treated as legitimate politicians when elected elsewhere. As a result, we empower those who use democratic means to advance anti-democratic ends. We need a universal democratic code that requires that all those seeking the legitimacy of the democratic process earn it by respecting such principles as state monopoly over the lawful use of force, the rejection of racism and violence, and the protection of the rights of others. The goal of such a code is to protect core democratic values from those determined to use the democratic system against itself. The temptation to engage with extremists can be strong. It may seem to promise stability and quiet. We may hope that by feeding the beast we can gradually tame it. But we do a disservice to diversity when, in its name, we tolerate the intolerant. Bitter experience has shown that buying off extremists is a short-term fix - for which we will pay dearly in the long run. Instead, groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah must be presented with a clear choice - between the path of violence and the path of legitimacy. They cannot have both. And it is this same stark choice that must be presented to the radical regime in Iran. No responsible state disagrees that Iran is the most prominent sponsor of terrorism. None disagrees that Iran denies the Holocaust and speaks openly of its desire to wipe a member state - mine - off the map. And none disagrees that, in violation of Security Council resolutions, it is actively pursuing the means to achieve this end. What is the value, we have to ask, of an organization which is unable to take effective action in the face of a direct assault on the very principles it was founded to protect? It is time for the United Nations, and the states of the world, to live up to their promise of "never again." To say enough is enough, to act now and to defend their basic values.

2007-10-02 01:00:00

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