Livni: We will continue to fight terrorism and, at the same time, we will continue to negotiate. We will not compromise on this.

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

The policy of the Israeli government regarding Israel’s relations with the Palestinians is very clear, and I will define it. Israel will conduct negotiations with the legitimate Palestinian leaders with the goal of reaching an agreement. At the same time, Israel will continue to fight terrorism everywhere.

The ongoing negotiations are not a license to anyone to commit terrorism. The negotiations do not provide any terrorist with immunity from Israeli actions. Negotiations are not an excuse to stop fighting terrorism just as terrorism is not an excuse to stop negotiating.

Israeli civilians live under the daily threat of terrorism emanating from Gaza. The terrorists exploit any lull in action in order to regroup and rearm. Iranian arms are brought into Gaza via Egypt, a situation we cannot tolerate.

I don’t believe that we have to check to which particular organization every terrorist belongs. Hamas bears responsibility for what is happening in the Gaza Strip. Our answer must be a comprehensive response to all of the threats, not only to the rocket fire. A terrorist regime is being established in Gaza, taking hold there, firing at Israel and increasing its strength. Israel cannot tolerate this.

The government of Israel has decided to act on three planes; all three together provide the answer to the problem:

1. The negotiations will proceed without a break. Terrorism will not be a reason to stop negotiating, and I expect the Palestinians to take a similar position and not suspend the negotiations because of Israeli actions, not to hand over the negotiation keys to Hamas. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships are being tested, and the test is the ability to continue.

2. We will continue to fight terrorism. The negotiations will not affect Israel’s ability to fight terror and will not grant immunity to anyone. The pragmatic Palestinians are currently unable to control what is happening in Gaza, and I therefore expect them to understand that Israel will act against the terrorism from Gaza and will fulfill its obligation to its citizens.

3. We will promote economic projects. Palestinian economic issues are part of Israel’s interest, just as Israel’s security should be a part of the Palestinians’ interest.

These are the three elements of the Israeli government policy. Simultaneously conducting peace negotiations with the moderates and counterterrorist operations against the terrorists is the only way to provide a comprehensive answer to Israel’s interests. We have no intention to compromise on this. At the same time, we must try to effect a change in the everyday reality in order to give both peoples the sense that this is not just empty talk.