They discussed the central threats facing Israel and the peace process: Hamas’ rise to power in the Palestinian Authority and the issue of Iran.

 FM Livni meets with German FM Steinmeier

 

FM Tzipi Livni and German FM Steinmeier at press conference in Jerusalem-13 Feb 2006 (Photo: Reuters)

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met on Monday (13 February 2006) with her German counterpart, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The meeting followed the recent visit to Israel of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two visits reflect the close and special relationship between Israel and Germany, balancing the memory of the Holocaust with the need to build a better future.

The two main issues discussed at the meeting of the two foreign ministers were the central threats facing Israel and the peace process: Hamas’ rise to power in the Palestinian Authority and the issue of Iran.

In a press conference following the meeting, Foreign Minister Steinmeier expressed support for the Israeli position and the international position as defined by the decision of the Quartet adopted in London immediately after the Palestinian elections.

Foreign Minister Livni said: "Participation in an electoral process does not whitewash a terrorist organization or change it into something else. On the contrary, a terrorist organization that heads a political entity transforms that body into a terrorist entity. If we consider what is in the best interests of the entire region, not only for Israel but also for the Palestinians, then the international community must be firm in its demands."

The foreign minister clarified: "The international community has set preconditions and if Hamas meets these requirements – totally renounce violence and terrorism, accept the existence of Israel and then adopt the previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians – then this will mean that it is no longer Hamas." She added: "I do not expect Hamas to meet these requirements in the near future."

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier stated: "Europeans will not negotiate with Hamas right now as it is on the terrorist blacklist," and added: "In statements by Hamas, there are no indications that the movement is inclined to face reality. So for the time being it does not look like Hamas will turn into a serious partner for negotiations. The key is whether Hamas will see itself as a political force and if it is willing to accept that democracy and the use of force do not mix."