Total agreement was reached on the need to uphold and preserve the three prerequisite conditions set by the international community regarding Hamas.

 FM Livni meets with Italian leaders

 

FM Tzipi Livni meets with Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi in Rome (Photo: Reuters)

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

On the eve of the gathering of European Community leaders in Brussels, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met tonight (Wednesday, March 22, 2006) in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and her Italian counterpart, Gianfranco Fini.

At her meeting with the prime minister, total agreement was reached on the need to uphold and preserve the three prerequisite conditions set by the international community regarding Hamas (recognizing Israel, abandoning terorism, and upholding Israel’s agreements with the PA). They took note that, during its rotating presidency of the European Union, Italy led the move to include Hamas on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Berlusconi asked about the condition of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and expressed the hope that he would soon regain consciousness and return to his family.

At her meeting with her colleague Fini, FM Livni said that the international community’s preconditions regarding Hamas are not in doubt. She made it clear that no legitimacy can be given the Hamas government as long as these conditions are not met. Livni noted that Hamas is not only a terrorist organization, but an extremist Islamist organization that educates Palestinian children to hate and to murder Jews and Christians. She stressed nonetheless that Israel does not intend to punish the Palestinian population and would act to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Authority.

At a joint press conference following their meeting, FM Fini said in answer to a question about the Gaza disengagement that the Government of Israel and Prime Minister Sharon had taken a courageous and painful decision. He said the Government of Israel had demonstrated that, when a democratic government takes a painful decision, and despite the inherent difficulty carries it out, this shows how different Israel is from its neighbors in the Middle East and proves it is a true democracy.

Commenting on the Iranian nuclear issue, the Italian minister pointed out the danger posed to the world by Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. FM Livni said that Iran is trying to win time to continue its weapons effort and that this is to the world’s detriment. She said that the deadline for Israel is not the date Iran obtains a bomb, but the date it obtains the know-how to make one.

Later in the evening Livni was to meet with oppostion leader Romano Prodi and Vatican Foreign Minister Giovanni Lajolo.