FM Livni: "we expect the international community to act in the most firm and determined way, to put pressure on the terrorists, to continue the pressure on the Palestinian government; and not to compromise with terror."

Statements by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, and MK Shai Hermesh
Sderot, May 21, 2007

[In the course of the press conference, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal was informed that the Sderot woman, Shirel Friedman, wounded in the 8:00 pm Kassam attack died of her wounds.]

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni: I would like to welcome Javier Solana to Israel, and I would like to thank him for coming and joining us tonight in Sderot, because the citizens of Sderot are facing an intolerable situation.

Sderot is under constant and ongoing attack from the Gaza Strip. The situation here is unbearable. Children cannot go to school, people cannot continue their daily lives and are facing Kassam rockets on a daily basis. Only a few minutes ago there was another attack, and unfortunately we have one women who was severely injured and another person was also injured.

We consider the Palestinian government headed by the Hamas terrorist organization responsible for this situation, and this unacceptable situation must be stopped.

Until now, Israel has shown restraint. But the rockets and the Kassam missile attacks on Sderot continue. Israel must defend its citizens. While Israel is looking for terrorists in order to stop them from their terrorist activities against civilians, these terrorists are looking for civilians to kill.

Israel left the Gaza Strip in great pain and took some risks, in order to give peace a chance – in order to create the kind of the beginning of something which could help the Palestinians to create and to establish a better life for their own people. But unfortunately, what we got in return is a terror nest.

Unfortunately, the Kassam missiles are only part of the problem. Even quiet days can be an illusion. The terrorist organizations are exploiting any ceasefire in order to strengthen their own armies, to continue smuggling weapons from what is called the Philadelphia Corridor, from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, in order to continue the attacks on Israel.

Mr. Solana, the people of Sderot feel that the world is indifferent to their suffering. And I would like to thank you for coming here tonight, because our expectation from the international community, of course, is to understand the basic situation here in Sderot, to share the suffering and pain of the people here. But we expect not only understanding: we expect the international community to act in the most firm and determined way, to put pressure on the terrorists, to continue the pressure on the Palestinian government; and not to compromise with terror.

Thank you for coming.

EU High Representative Javier Solana: I just landed in Tel Aviv and I took a car to come here, to spend some time with mayor of the people here.

First, I want to say that I am very pleased to be here. I want to say to the Mayor of Sderotl: You and all the people who are suffering here have all my solidarity, and, I would like say very clearly, also our condemnation of these attacks. We feel very close to you, as we feel always, towards people who suffer – in Israel and in other places.

I will be meeting here with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, my good friend, Tzipi Livni. I hope to have a good conversation with her tonight, a practical conversation. I hope mainly to stop the violence in all the theatres where violence is taking place now in the Middle East, in particular, here in your town, where we are now standing.

I hope, as I said, that we will have a good meeting that will create conditions so that the horizon of peace may be brought forward as soon as possible. That is our expectation, that is our wish and that is our commitment. I say this on behalf of the Europeans. I don’t want to say anything else now, but to begin to work together to see how we can put a political horizon in place.

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal: Welcome to you, Mr. Solana.

I was one of the greatest supporters of Arik Sharon, in the process of leaving Gaza. We thought that if we found a way to separate, peace would come. We never thought the result would be  rockets from Gaza. We agreed to relocate 7,000 people who have been living here for 35 years, in order to promote peace, in order to create peace, to show a little bit of good faith towards our neighbors, on both sides of the borders. But the situation during the last two to three weeks here has been unbearable. The children are out of schools, students are out of their college, people are being shot. We sought peace and we have received just the opposite. You say you support the population and I would like to see your response, as someone who lives here, on the border.

We are looking, more and more, for not only sympathy, but also action, in order to promote a stable situation. So thank you very much for coming.

MK Shai Hermesh: Ladies and gentlemen, I am I would like to take you by the hand and take you to the streets of Sderot and show you what it is to be a citizen of Sderot.

May we remind you, Mr. Solana, that this is a city of fear. This is a city of terror. This is a city of traumas. This is the city which part of the population is not here. It is the impossible city. Let me remind you that Sderot is in inside the Green Line, with no claims from the Palestinians. I do not see any logical reason why they keep shooting at us from across the border. After all, in 2005 we withdrew from the Gaza Strip. We gave them back all that they wanted, and they are still shooting.

Let me remind you that somebody in Israel promised us that after the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip, we have the full right to react strongly after the first Kassam. Since the withdrawal, more than 1,000 Kassams have landed in Sderot and the surrounding area. It is impossible that somebody is shooting at us just like that, and we are not reacting. It is against nature. I want to tell the Palestinians, if they are listening to me: I can promise you that we are not leaving this city. We are staying here, and it does not matter how long it will be, it does not matter how tough it will be. Sderot is inside the Green Line, so nobody has a right to kill peace and innocent people, like we had twenty minutes ago.