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Photo: Bonnie Mendelson

Israel’s first female Vice Prime Minister Tzipi Livni came to Penn Law on Nov. 16 to discuss her vision for the future of the region. 

Livni is a member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and served as both the foreign minister and Israel’s first female vice prime minister from 2006 to 2009. She addressed a crowd of over 300 visitors at the Michael A. Fitts Auditorium at Penn Law on the topic of “Two States for Two Peoples Solution and an Evolving US Foreign Policy,” before fielding questions from the audience.

The event was co-hosted by the Office of International Programs, Penn Law Students for Israel, and Perry World House.

Livni discussed issues currently dominating Israeli political discourse, including the proliferation of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, the national borders of Israel, and the security of the state. 

She also spent a significant segment of her talk describing the role she has played in past negotiations between Israeli and the Palestinian leaders, and how this experience has furthered her commitment to a two-state solution, which would grant Israelis a Jewish state and Palestinians a Palestinian one. 

“Maybe if we would continue to decide what is our destination, that our destination is a Jewish democratic state, then we could secure a just peaceful solution with the Palestinians through borders, security, and separation,” she said. “According to our Jewish values, we need to give Palestinians equal rights."

Livni also said she disagreed with the argument that a two-state solution would pose a potential security threat. 

“There are those who say that it is either peace or security,” she said. “We can have both. It is peace and security.”

College sophomore Jacob Cohen, the legislative director for the Penn Israel Public Affairs Committee, said he wanted to attend the event to hear differing perspectives on the issue. 

“I think it’s great to hear from people on all sides of the political spectrum because we often only hear about the right wing views from Israel," he said. 

Other students, including College freshman Yarden Wiesenfeld, said they came to hear a “refreshing” political perspective. 

“It’s really amazing that Penn brings in speakers who are able to represent the true complexity of the issues that we rarely get to see,” she said.

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