FM Livni attended the meeting of the EU Council of Ministers in Luxembourg (June 12-13).

 FM Livni addresses EU ministers in Luxemburg


FM Livni addresses the EU-Israel Association Council on June 13, as EU Council President and Austrian FM Ursula Plassnik looks on. (HOPI-MEDIA Medienservice)

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni concluded her two-day visit to the European Union’s Council of Ministers in Luxemburg (12-13 June) by stressing the common goals of Europe and Israel.

"There is complete agreement between Israel and the European Union on the central objectives of the political process, in particular the existence of two national states," she told the ministers. "This is our joint interest and goal. Even if there are differences of opinion between us from time to time concerning the correct way to achieve this goal, these are only on the tactical level and not on the substantive level."

Livni’s words were welcomed by her European counterparts, both in working meetings with them as well as at open sessions.

"Both sides understand today that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer a zero-sum game," she said. "Instead, there is the understanding that we must act jointly in order to find a solution that will be good for all sides."

She noted that, "The Middle East conflict has claimed a great number of victims, some of them innocent civilians. The international community must make a clear moral distinction between the terrorist who seeks to kill civilians, women and children, supported by a society that sanctifies deliberate attacks on civilians and considers terrorists to be cultural heroes, and a society engaged in an ongoing struggle to defend its citizens from terrorism; a struggle that sometimes, to our sorrow, entails harm to the innocent. Civilians will never be a military objective of the IDF."

Minister Livni added that, "Only within the framework of action in defense of our civilians can Israel’s military operations in the territories be understood."

She lauded the EU’s position on the Hamas government in the Palestinian Authority, praising its steadfast stand on the three minimal conditions for its becoming a partner in negotiations (abandoning terrorism, recognizing Israel, and fulfilling previous PA agreements). "Only such a position can convey an unequivocal message to terrorism and strengthen the moderate elements in the Palestinian leadership," Livni said.

With regard to the international mechanism for transferring money to the Palestinian people, Livni said that, "Israel fully shares in the necessary distinction between the need to preserve the illegitimacy of the Hamas government and the need not to punish the Palestinian population and to provide for its needs. We must ensure that this mechanism does not legitimize Hamas either directly or indirectly."

European External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner characterized Livni’s visit as a "step forward in the upgrading of Israeli-European relations."

Considerable progress was achieved in a number of areas on Israel’s agenda with the EU, particularly Israel’s request to be included in the EU educational agreement (which today has only three non-European signatories: the US, Japan, and Australia), to join the European space program, the EU environmental agreement, and the union’s R&D program. The EU has such agreements with only three other countries: Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco.

Minister Livni held a marathon of political meetings with her European counterparts, among them the foreign ministers of Britain, Austria (whose Ursula Plassnik is the current EU Council president), Finland (the next council president), Greece, Denmark, Holland, Poland, and Luxemburg. She also met with the foreign ministers of the European troika, with External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and with High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. In addition, Livni held a working meeting with her Egyptian counterpart.

The visit concluded with Minister Livni’s appearance before the EU-Israel Association Council.