FM Livni expressed her belief that, with the help of the international community, the process for resolving the conflict can ultimately succeed.

 FM Tzipi Livni addresses AHLC Donors' Conference in London

 

FM Livni and Britain's Foreign Sec. David Miliband (Photo: John Rifkin)

Abstract of FM Livni’s address:

Israel’s strategy in the peace process has three core dimensions: Advancing the bilateral negotiations, promoting changes on the ground, and confronting the extremists, especially in Gaza.

The complex and difficult reality cannot be ignored: as long as it remains in the control of a terror organization, Gaza will remain a major obstacle on the path to the creation of a Palestinian State.

It is Israel’s policy to distinguish between the terrorist organizations in Gaza and the civilian population. Israel continues to supply humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that the crossings through which this aid must pass are targeted by the terrorist organizations.

We seek an agreement that will establish a peaceful and responsible Palestinian state that will fulfill the national aspirations of the Palestinians without posing a threat to Israel. I believe that, with compromises by both sides, this agreement is possible.

The main purpose of our gathering here is to support the process of economic growth. Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot do it alone. The international community and, in particular, the Arab States of the region must actively support the bilateral process; they must offer tangible economic assistance to the legitimate Palestinian government and deny support and legitimacy to the enemies of peace. 

While the task may seem overwhelming, and the risks of action are clear, the risks of inaction are greater. 

Together, we can create the kind of future that the people of the region so richly deserve.

 
Full Speech

Israel’s strategy in the peace process has three core dimensions: Advancing the bilateral negotiations, promoting changes on the ground, and confronting the extremists, especially in Gaza.

NEGOTIATIONS

With respect to the negotiations, our objective is clear: to realize the vision of two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace, security and prosperity. This is our policy and our commitment.

In Annapolis, we committed to make every effort to conclude an agreement by the end of this year. We are determined to reach this goal as soon as possible. This is our interest – we do not need outside pressure to achieve it.

But we do need to give the bilateral process the space and the time to reach an agreement that will truly serve the interests of both peoples and lay a sound foundation for the future. The timing of the agreement is, of course, important, but its content is more so.

The negotiations are being conducted intensively, vigorously and seriously by both sides.

There is not a day that passes without negotiations – whether in meetings between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, between myself and Abu Ala, as chief negotiators or among the expert committees that been established to discuss a wide range of issues including core issues, economic relations, culture of peace, water, environment, infrastructure and more.

We seek an agreement that will establish a peaceful and responsible Palestinian State that will fulfill the national aspirations of the Palestinian people without posing a threat to Israel. The task is not easy, and there are significant gaps between the parties that we must bridge. But I believe that with compromises by both sides, this agreement is possible – and it is our duty to spare no effort to reach it.

CHANGES ON THE GROUND

In relation to changes on the ground, I have made clear at previous meetings that advancing the Palestinian economy and easing daily Palestinian life is an Israeli interest, just as Prime Minister Fayad has made clear that Israeli security is a Palestinian interest. When we talk about changes on the ground, we are talking about translating these interests into actions.

These two interests of prosperity and security may appear distinct but in fact they are inter-dependent and mutually reinforcing.

The more Israel’s security is preserved, the easier it will be to create the conditions for lasting Palestinian economic development.
 
I am sure that every leader in this room, especially those familiar with the struggle against terrorism and violence, knows that ensuring security for the general public in the face of concrete threats sometimes requires the imposition of restrictions.

The dilemmas we face are no different to yours, even though the magnitude of the threat may sometimes be greater. 

Despite the dangers, we have a strong desire to see life on the Palestinian side free of impediments. We know that the easy movement of people and goods is a basic condition of economic growth and stability.

The main purpose of our gathering here is to support the process of economic growth, including the process of Palestinian reform and institution building. 

We are committed to working with the international community and with the legitimate Palestinian government to advance the goal of Palestinian economic development in the West Bank.

In this spirit, we are working closely and intensively with Prime Minister Fayyad and with the help, the leadership and the vision of special envoy Tony Blair to bring real and tangible change, wherever conditions allow.

Our guiding concept should be to identify Palestinian population centers in which we can create models of change through a comprehensive package of measures that will make a difference to daily life and address a variety of fields including security, movement of people, law enforcement and economic development.

Such models of change are already being developed in cities such as Jenin, Bethlehem and Nablus.

• In Jenin, with the support of General Dayton, General Jones and General Fraser, both sides have begun the process of transferring responsibility on certain security issues to the Palestinian Security Forces. We have approved the opening of four new police stations and the improvement of the infrastructure of water, sewage and electricity facilities. In addition, a major checkpoint along Jenin-Nablus road has been removed, significantly easing the movement of people and goods.

• Bethlehem is turning into a major tourism center: More than half a million tourists visited the city in 2007 – a 72% increase over 2006 – and this number is expected to grow this year. There has been significant improvement in the roads’ infrastructure and a major reduction in the waiting time at crossing points. Israel is also committed to the success of the Bethlehem Investment conference and to facilitating economic and tourist projects in the city.

These kinds of focused initiatives come in addition to a series of measures that have been taken recently throughout the West Bank to improve daily life. Let me give some examples:

• A major effort is being undertaken to allow easier and faster movement through crossing points, including by creating additional lanes.
• Sixty roadblocks have been removed in the past few weeks.
• The Ramallah/Nablus checkpoint towards Jericho, a major checkpoint, has been removed.
• An additional 5000 work permits have been issued.
• The JEC has begun to meet on a regular basis to discuss ongoing economic and commercial matters between both sides.
• Joint Israeli-Palestinian security meetings have been intensified.
• In addition, Israel and the PA are discussing future economic projects with international partners that will potentially provide thousands of jobs and boost the Palestinian economy. These projects include: the developing of industrial zones to be set up in three primary focal points:  the Industrial Zone in Tarqumieh financed by Turkey; the Industrial Zone in Jenin financed by Germany; and the “Corridor of Peace” project in Jericho financed by Japan.

Many of these measures involve significant security risks for Israel. We expect the Palestinian Authority to live up to its obligations in order to ensure that these steps will not be exploited by terrorists and endanger further progress.

We know that much more needs to be done and we are ready to expand and intensify our efforts. But we also need to know that Israeli measures will be met by sustained measures by the Palestinian Authority to fight terror and dismantle its infrastructure and to create the institutions and mechanisms of a responsible and peaceful State, as is required by the Road Map.

The Gaza Strip

Mr. Chairman,

Despite these positive developments, the reality is that there is still a deep and ongoing struggle against those who resort to terrorism and who seek to undermine any possibility for peaceful and dignified coexistence between our two peoples.

The complex and difficult reality in the Gaza Strip cannot be ignored.
 
Gaza is controlled by Hamas – an organization that continues to reject the Quartet principles and has turned Gaza into a launching pad for daily terror attacks that traumatize Israeli civilian communities.

Our shared strategy requires that we continue the policy of de-legitimizing those who reject the core principles of peace based on the vision of two nation States.

The situation in Gaza is an intolerable one for Israel’s citizens, but it is not just Israel’s problem. As long as it is controlled by a terror organization, Gaza will be a major obstacle on the path to the creation of a Palestinian State.

Our strategy is based on the basic principle that Palestinian aspirations can be realized only in the negotiation room and never through terror. It is for this reason that we are committed to the negotiations, and it is for this very same reason that we – Israel, the legitimate Palestinian government, the Arab world, and the entire international community – cannot afford to appease or reward Hamas.  

At the same time, I want to make clear that our policy in the Gaza Strip continues to distinguish between the terrorist organizations and the civilian population. Israel remains committed to facilitating humanitarian assistance and will continue our cooperation with international organizations engaged in this effort.

The crossings are open. Hundreds of humanitarian trucks enter Gaza weekly, providing medical supplies, food stuffs, fuel, and basic necessities. 

We are in an absurd situation in which the crossings – a life line for Palestinians in Gaza – are targeted by the very people who pretend to seek the welfare of the Palestinian population.

The reality is that Israel has shown more concern for the welfare of civilians in the Gaza Strip than Hamas ever has.

We have continued to facilitate humanitarian assistance despite continued attacks on crossing points, including the recent murder of two Israelis engaged in fuel distribution to Gaza, and the car bombs detonated at the Kerem Shalom crossing, aimed at killing those Israelis who operate it.

It is Hamas that has chosen to reject the Quartet principles. It is Hamas that – even after the disengagement – has chosen to allow terror attacks against innocent Israeli civilians to be launched daily from Gaza and that is engaged in terror itself. It is Hamas that continues to hold Gilad Shalit hostage. And it is Hamas that must bear the responsibility for the choices it has made and for the situation it has created.

SUMMARY

Mr. Chairman,

I believe that the process we have embarked on can succeed.

But success is possible only if we adhere to our common strategy in its three core dimensions – advancing the bilateral negotiations, promoting changes on the ground, and confronting the extremists, especially in Gaza.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot do this alone. The international community, and, in particular, the Arab States of the region, must actively support the bilateral process and the compromises needed to reach agreement, they must offer tangible economic assistance to the legitimate Palestinian government, and they must deny support and legitimacy to the enemies of peace. 

We commend the steps that have been taken by many in this room. And we call especially on our Arab neighbors to advance this process not only through economic support but also by fully embracing and defending the principles of co-existence and reconciliation.

As we advance in the bilateral process, we need to create a regional environment in which the promise of peace can be realized and in which its benefits are felt by Israelis and Arabs alike.

The task before us is challenging, and sometimes may seem overwhelming. The risks of action are clear. But the risks of inaction are greater. Together, I believe that we can find the courage and the leadership to create the kind of future that the people of our region – after so much conflict and suffering – so richly deserve. 

Thank you.