"There is a better understanding in the world today that the Middle Eastern conflict is not a zero-sum game," declared FM Tzipi Livni at the concluding panel of the conference entitled Women Leaders Networking for Peace and Security in the Middle East.

 FM Livni attends Women Leaders Conference

 

"Women Leaders Networking for Peace and Security in the Middle East"(Photo: Jeannette Handler)

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

"There is a better understanding in the world today that the Middle Eastern conflict is not a zero-sum game," declared Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the concluding panel of the conference entitled "Women Leaders Networking for Peace and Security in the Middle East" (31 May) in Vienna. "All of the states of the region are threatened by extremists espousing a religious ideology that seeks to undermine regional stability. It is in our common interest to prevent these extremists from transforming a national conflict into a religious one."

The women’s leadership conference, organized by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, was also attended by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Iraqi First Lady Hero Talabani; the Bahraini President of the United Nations General Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa; Pakistani Minister of Women’s Affairs Sumaira Malik; Palestinian Authority representative Hanan Ashrawi; EU Commissioner of External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner; Algerian Minister for Scientific Research Souad Bendjaballah; UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd; and Nouzha Chekrouni of the Moroccan Foreign Ministry.

Minister Livni added, "Stopping terrorism is not just an Israeli interest. Stopping the violence can and must serve the interests of us all. Whoever thinks that Hamas poses a problem only to Israel is mistaken. Hamas represents a dangerous religious ideology that threatens the entire region, including the Palestinians."

Regarding the Arab League’s diplomatic initiative, the Foreign Minister said, "The correct thing to do is to immediately begin a process of normalization of relations with Israel and not to wait. Normalization now will help in promoting the diplomatic process."
"This conference," she added, "has helped clarify the difference between the important value of religious freedom and the unacceptable trend of using religion to fight against freedom in the countries of the region."

Foreign Minister Livni held a working meeting with Secretary Rice during the conference. The two discussed the deteriorating situation in Gaza, as well as the time table for diplomatic talks in the coming weeks. Livni also held working meetings with Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, President of the Austrian National Council Barbara Prammer, and Hanan Ashrawi.

Before leaving Austria, the Israeli minister visited the central synagogue of Vienna and met with leaders of the Austrian Jewish community.