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Livni: Defense trumps reputation

Israel’s self-defense is more important than finding favor in foreign eyes, its foreign minister said.

Tzipi Livni said in a speech Tuesday that while the Olmert government is serious about trying to make peace with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the efforts are seriously hobbled by the power of Hamas and the threat it and other terrorists pose to Israel.

That, Livni told the Herzliya Conference, means Israel must continue fighting in the Gaza Strip even as it courts Abbas, though the violence generates international censure and occasional accusations of poor faith.

“I believe that we do not need to apologize for our existence or for protecting our citizens, even at the cost of criticism from the international community,” she said.

“I have not come here to sell pipe dreams, and I believe that what we are doing here today reflects the broad Israeli consensus, and I hope and wish that we will have the strength to implement the decisions that we make.”

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