At a time when talks are taking place between Hamas and Fatah it is important to remind ourselves and the international community of the parameters the international community set up when Hamas won the elections.
Statements to the press by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn prior to their meeting
Jerusalem, March 25, 2008
FM LIVNI: Friends, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Asselborn, the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg – an expert when it comes to the Middle East region.
Of course we are going to discuss the bilateral relationship and the situation in the region. As always, never a dull moment. We are now acting simultaneously: on one hand, continuing the peace process with the more pragmatic Palestinians; and on the other hand, fighting terrorism and maintaining the proper distinction between moderates and extremists, represented by Hamas.
It is, I think, just as important to remind ourselves and the international community of the parameters that the international community set up when Hamas won the elections, that legitimacy for any government goes through the renunciation of violence and terrorism, accepting Israel’s right to exist and, of course, accepting former agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. It is crucial to remember this at a time when talks, or a dialogue, are taking place between Hamas and Fatah.
FM ASSELBORN: Thank you very much, Tzipi Livni. I am very glad to be here, have lunch together and discuss very important problems. We, in Europe, know that you are one of the key figures here, alongside Qurei, as the chief of negotiations for Israel. You know that we have no meeting in the European Union without speaking about the Middle East.
As you also know, we in the European Union really want to help both sides. We want to help Israel because it’s our historic task, and we want to bring both parties together, so that an agreement to be possible in the end. I think that’s the target of all the principals. We know that there are huge problems in this region but that in Israel you are making a lot of efforts now. I also know that there is a certain secret concerning the negotiations. This isn’t the place to speak about it, but believe me that next week, on Friday and Saturday, when the EU foreign ministers meet in Slovenia, Israel and its efforts will be at the top of the schedule.
This afternoon we will be in Ramallah and we will be back here in Jerusalem tomorrow to see President Peres. So I am really looking forward to hear what you have to tell me. After Annapolis we were both at the donors conference in Paris, and there Luxembourg pledged 22 million Euros for the reconstruction of Palestine. That’s a huge effort.
Sometimes it is not easy to understand both sides in the region. I understand that you want to live here in peace and you want security and no rockets from Gaza. I can understand you completely. On the other hand, let me just tell you that sometimes also it’s very difficult to understand the settlement policy in your country. I think we have to be clear on both sides that this cannot be, let’s say, a point on the agenda that will block the whole situation. So we need a Palestinian state that can live economically and we have to make all the efforts we tried to find in Paris and in Annapolis.
Luxembourg is a small country in the European Union but we are very engaged in the peace process in the region, and we support all those, you among them, who want peace to come to Israel.
FM LIVNI: Thank you. Clearly during our conversation you’ll get the answers to all of these questions. But it is really important to understand that the division is no longer between Israelis and Palestinians but more between those who support the notion of two states for two peoples and those who oppose it. And this division exists especially in the Palestinian society and leadership, where we can see this division and distinction between the moderates and extremists.
[translation from Hebrew:]
In the course of our discussions we will obviously discuss both the bilateral relations and the situation in the Middle East. It’s just as important for Europe to follow the rules set by Israel and Europe immediately following the Palestinian Authority elections.
The path to receiving legitimacy goes through accepting the international community’s three conditions: (1) acknowledging Israel’s right to exist; (2) renouncing violence and terror; and (3) accepting and upholding previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
This holds true for the Palestinian government and every Palestinian leader; and it is especially important to re-emphasize this now when talks are taking place between Hamas and Fatah. The legitimacy of Fatah, of the negotiations, and of Fayyad’s government all pass through the acknowledgement of these conditions. This is the demand still being made of every member of Hamas – by Israel, certainly by the European community, and I hope by the moderate Palestinian elements.
FM ASSELBORN: Just one last point. What is happening with the Arab Summit in Syria is very important, and we can support you there in the interest of Israel’s security and the peace process. Regarding Iran, I think the European Union really tried to address this issue in New York in the UN with the third resolution. But we also have to try – not with this regime, but some day – to have, again, a political dialogue with Iran. That would be a very, very good thing.