Mideast Crisis: 'No Other Way to Live in Peace'

ByABC News
July 17, 2006, 5:30 PM

July 17, 2006 — -- The following is a transcript of Charles Gibson's interview with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Gibson: The Israeli government has said it is the goal to severely weaken Hezbollah -- militarily, diplomatically. Do you think you are succeeding?

Livni: Well, I think so. Until now we used the military forces and I think that now this is also the role of the international community. I mean, it is not only the Israeli government's goal to weaken Hezbollah. This is part of the Security Council Resolution 1559.

This is part of the interest of the free world against the axis of terror and hatred of Hezbollah and Syria and Iran and Hamas. And unfortunately until now, the Siniora government, the Lebanese government didn't implement its role under the 1559 Resolution. And this is the time in which I think that maybe the Israeli government in a way made a favor to the Siniora government, and there is a chance now to implement the Security Council resolution.

Gibson: You have called for the Lebanese government to come down and take control of their southern border, their border with Israel. But is that government strong enough to do it?

Livni: You know the story of the Middle East, especially in the last years, is that the leaders are more moderate and they believe in the right causes, are the weak ones. This is true about Siniora and Abu Mazen when it comes to the Palestinian issue. As I said before, now there is a window for opportunity because Hezbollah was weakened after the Israeli attacks.

I also believe that now there is an understanding within the Lebanese society that Hezbollah is a burden. I mean, Hezbollah tried to sell this organization, this movement as the liberator of Lebanon. But now they understand that the right thing to do, not for Israel, but for the benefit of Lebanon, for their future, is to stop it not to give them the chance to control their lives.

Gibson: Do you think that the people of Lebanon, the moderate people of Lebanon really think Israel is doing them a favor by what they are doing militarily there?

Livni: No, I said we are doing it for Israel. We are doing it for the Israeli society. We are doing it because we have no other way to live in peace. I mean, Israel and Lebanon have no conflict, and Hezbollah is using the fact that they have the strength in Lebanon to keep an open front for the Iranians and the Syrians with Israel from Lebanon. So maybe doing a "favor" is not the right word. But I think that what Israel is doing is to open a window of opportunity to the Lebanese government, to the international community to pressure now the Lebanese government and to do the right thing according to the 1559 Resolution. It is the Security Council Resolution, not the Israeli government resolution.

Gibson: But for the Lebanese government to come down and take control of that border, it takes a will to do it and it takes a capability to do it. Do they have either?

Livni: I don't know about the will. I heard a Siniora speech a few days ago. Unfortunately, he didn't even mention 1559 Resolution. But yet he was speaking about the need of the Lebanese government to force its sovereignty on the southern part of Lebanon. So this is a good message.