Livni to UN: Time Has Come to Take Action Against Iran

FM tells UN General Assembly that militants must be barred from running for office in democratic elections.

NEW YORK - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told assembled world leaders at the United Nations on Monday that the time had come to take action against Iran.

"None disagrees that Iran denies the Holocaust and speaks openly of its desire to wipe a member state - mine - off the map," Livni said during her address to the UN General Assembly. "And none disagrees that, in violation of Security Council resolutions, it is actively pursuing the means to achieve this end."

"Too many see the danger but walk idly by - hoping that someone else will take care of it," she continued. "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," she said.

Livni also urged the UN to prevent militant groups from participating in democratic elections.

"Genuine democracy is about values before it is about voting," Livni said. "No true democracy on earth allows armed militia, or groups with racist or violent agendas, to participate in elections."

"There are some who insist on high standards in their own country, but forget them when they look abroad," she continued. "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."

Livni called on the international community to adopt a universal set of standards for participation in true democratic elections.

"The goal of such a universal code is not to dictate our values or to stifle legitimate voices with which we may disagree," she said. "Its goal is to protect core democratic values from those determined to use the democratic system against itself, and to make clear that participation in the democratic process is not just a right - it is also a responsibility."

Livni dedicated much of her speech to the diplomatic efforts currently underway with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

"There is no substitute for the bilateral process," she said. "Failure is not an option - but it is for the parties themselves to define success."

Livni stressed, however, that a Palestinian state and not Israel would serve as the home for Palestinian refugees.

"Just as Israel is homeland to the Jewish people, so Palestine will be established as the homeland and the national answer for the Palestinian people, including the refugees," said Livni.

Livni called on the international community, including Arab and Muslim states, to be engaged in the peace process, but said they must "offer support, not to stipulate conditions."

The foreign minister cautioned world leaders, however, against softening their opposition to radical militant groups.

"Just as a viable and prosperous Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza is an Israeli interest, so a secure Israel must be a Palestinian interest," she said. "The world cannot afford another terror state."

"We must stand up to those who, after we withdrew from Gaza to give a chance for peace, chose not to build but to destroy, and choose - on a daily basis - to target Israeli homes and kindergartens with their missiles."