Sat, Jan 26, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Israel appeals for Iranian divestment

TURNING UP THE PRESSURE Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged business and political leaders to withdraw from Iran


Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni appealed to the global political and business elite gathered in Davos on Thursday to make the personal decision to pull out of Iran and isolate the Islamic republic.

"Iran is a global threat. And Iran can be stopped by you. You can make the change," Livni told the corporate chiefs and politicians attending the World Economic Forum.

"Tremendous power is gathered in this room. The importance of wealth is not only to mingle and engage in social interaction, but for policymaking," she said.

Arguing that Iran's nuclear ambitions threatened "the entire global community," she appealed to the delegates' personal sense of responsibility.

"Excuse me for saying this. This is not just a political decision. This is your own personal decision and history will judge us all," she said.

"If every company here, if every country represented here would decide to divest from Iran, that can stop Iran," she added. "The decision is in your hands."

This year's Davos event attracted nearly 30 heads of state or government, more than 110 Cabinet ministers and several hundred corporate titans.

Widely considered to be the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power, Israel suspects Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of its nuclear program -- a charge that Tehran denies.

Israel considers the Islamic republic its arch-enemy following repeated calls from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Earlier, Livni had urged the Arab world to bolster support for moderate Palestinian leaders in order to push forward the Middle East peace process.

"The Palestinians face their own extremists," she said, "and there is no Palestinian leader who can compromise -- any peace needs compromise -- without the support of the Arab world," she said.

With Israel under pressure internationally over its blockade of the Gaza Strip, Livni insisted there was a "big gap" between Israel's policy and the way it was perceived.

"We are taking risks," she argued. "We withdrew from the Gaza strip, we dismantled settlements ... but the next day we got Hamas in return -- a terrorist organization."

The Middle East was very much the focus of attention in Davos on Thursday, with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also participating in the annual forum at the Swiss ski resort.

Fayyad described the situation in Hamas-controlled Gaza under the Israeli blockade as "absolutely disastrous" and "moving from bad to worse."

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