FM Livni: "It is impossible to achieve peace without dealing with the fundamental issues of terrorism and extreme Islamism. A change in Gaza is essential."

 FM Livni meets with US Senators McCain, Lieberman and Graham

 

FM Livni and Senator McCain in Jerusalem   (Photo: Flash 90)

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Vice Prime Minister and minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni met this morning (Wednesday, 19 March 2008), with U.S. Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham, who are currently on an official visit to Israel. The four discussed various regional issues and the connections between them.

FM Livni briefed the senators on the range of threats Israel with which Israel is forced to contend and on government policy regarding the political process and the continuous war on terror. On this topic, FM Livni stated that "It is impossible to achieve peace without dealing with the fundamental issues of terrorism and extreme Islamism. A change in Gaza is essential."

FM Livni also stated:

"Since your last visit the conditions in Gaza have deteriorated. Iranian armaments are smuggled into the Gaza Strip, rocket range has increased and many additional civilians are now exposed to threats.

The tempting lull is apparent only above the surface. Below the surface, Hamas is strengthening itself, and this is a problematical long-term situation. The impression of short-term calm, which will create a dangerous situation in the future, is unacceptable. We must insist on the existence of three elements: Complete termination of rocket attacks, termination of the weapons build-up, and prevention of the consolidation of extreme Islamic rule just beyond the fence. Hamas cannot be legitimized, and a situation where the Palestinians and the Arab world perceive any outcome as a victory for Hamas cannot be allowed. In regard to this, all options for action are on the table.

A ‘status quo’ of terror – a reaction in the relationship between a country and a terror organization is unacceptable to Israel.

It is a time of trial. The entire world, especially extreme regimes and those countries ‘on the fence’ in the battle between extremists and moderates, is examining our conduct. Sitting on the fence strengthens the extremists. It is imperative we do not show weakness or compromise our values. This is true with regard to Iran, to the situation in Iraq, and in regard to the battle with Hamas and Hizbullah in our region.

I know that we share the same understanding of the nature of the threat in the region, starting with Iran, its connections to Hamas and to the others. It is not enough to share the understanding of what is the nature of the threat, but also the understanding of what needs to be done, to understand the division between extremists and moderates’ and the way it is being translated into terror in the region. I know that we share the same understanding, but I know also where you stand when it comes to what needs to be done, and I thank you for that."