WATCH: Livni explains why she opposed Schalit exchange deal

Livni speaks out on the prisoner swap, regional relations and the Arab Spring – but dodges a question on settlement policy

During her visit to France this week, Kadima leader and head of the opposition Tzipi Livni sat for an interview with Annette Young of France 24‘s English-language service. Previously foreign minister in the Olmert government, Livni comes across as an intelligent and thoughtful person who avoids populist rhetoric. Surprisingly for a politician, she also gives the impression of being quite modest – even self-effacing. She seems to be so engaged in the interview that she’s actually enjoying it, as if it were an off-the-record conversation, and sounds sorry to see it end.

Highlights of the interview:

>> Livni explains that she opposed the Schalit prisoner exchange deal because it strengthened Hamas at the expense of Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah party, but adds that she shares in the joy over Schalit’s release and reminds her interviewer that she is the mother of a soldier;

>> She says that the current government is ‘partly’ responsible for Israel’s becoming increasingly isolated in the Mideast, but also says that there was no use in trying to deal with Hamas and Hezbollah because they refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist;

>> The Kadima leader, who has has been on record in favour of a two-state solution for more than a decade, even though she comes from a highly politicized right-wing family, says that her political views have not, in fact, changed since the mid-1990s;

>> On the Arab Uprising and what it means for Israel: that the young, secular revolutionaries will bring about a more democratic system; or that the ‘extremists’ will use democracy to become more powerful. This, she says, will affect Israel’s status in the region;

>> Also, note that she dodges the question on how she would deal with the settlements.