FM Livni met with EU High Rep Solana in Jerusalem following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
Joint Press Conference with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Javier Solana, European High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem
FM Tzipi Livni: I would like to welcome again, in Israel, Javier Solana, a good friend. It is an historic day today, after the Israeli government adopted Security Council Resolution 1701, in order to change the situation in Lebanon and to implement some former resolutions of the Security Council, like 1559 and 1680. This time we believe it is about time that the Lebanese government will take responsibility, with the aid of the international community.
We spoke about the situation in Lebanon – Javier Solana came from Lebanon. And we spoke also about the situation and the relations between Israel and the Palestinians and of course, like always, unfortunately, we discussed also, the Iranian threat, as we see it.
I believe that this moment is a test also, not only for the Lebanese government, but for the international community. We expect the international community not only to take the right resolution as was upheld by the Security Council a few days ago but also to implement this resolution, and the sooner the better.
So, we would like to see the international forces deployed in the south part of Lebanon, helping the Lebanese government to get the Hizbullah out of this part of Lebanon and in order to achieve stability in Lebanon. This also reflects the relationship between Israel and Lebanon in the future.
The international community has now tasks and goals, and I hope that the implementation will be full and quick.
EU High Representative Javier Solana: Thank you very much.
Let me tell you that I am very pleased to be back in Israel. I came last time less than a month ago. A lot of things have taken place in this period of time. I have been in Lebanon, as the Minister just said, just the day before yesterday, and I spent a whole day here in Israel, meeting the Prime Minister, meeting with the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, my friend.
I want to tell you that it is an important day today, yesterday, and tomorrow. These three days have been and are going to be very historic: the approval of the resolution in the United Nations; the decision by both governments, Israel and Lebanon, to support it, to accept the resolution; and the cease-fire which will start being operational tomorrow morning, at 7:00 in the morning.
Let us hope very much that the consequences of these decisions are implemented, all of them – the cease-fire and the resolution. It is the responsibility of all the members of the United Nations, to comply with the resolutions. You can be sure that we are going to tell the Europeans to help in the implementation of the resolutions in three lines of action, which are the most important, in my mind: the humanitarian aspect, the help with the reconstruction of Lebanon, and what is important also, very important, is the deployment of the force which will accompany the Lebanese force and the obligations that the resolution mandates.
We from the European Union will have important contingents of forces deployed under the UNIFIL mandate, which is new, which is reinforced, and which is more robust. And we will have, as I said, a good contingent, a solid contingent placed on the ground. With that I think that we will contribute to the restoration of Lebanon and we will contribute also, to peace in the region.
It is a pleasure to be here again and we will be permanently in touch in the coming days to see if something is needed to do, that we can do it together.
Thank you very much for your hospitality.
FM Tzipi Livni: I would like to add also about the Israeli hostages that are being held by the Hizbullah and the need not only to call for the unconditional release of the hostages but also to bring them back to their families. Israel is not going to rest until we see these hostages coming back home.
Javier Solana: To add to the statement of the Minister, as you know, I am in contact with the families and I am trying to do our best. I cannot give you details, but we are working very hard on that, and we hope very much that they will be back with their families alive.
Q: Mr. Solana, how long do you think that it will take for the multinational forces to be deployed in southern Lebanon? And, do you really expect it to be able to take action, military action, if it encounters Hizbullah resistance?
Javier Solana: To the first question, how long it will take, I can tell you that, it is not our [EU] responsibility, but the responsibility to the United Nations to organize the force. But I can tell you that, by now, in New York, it will be already plans from the European Union to cooperate with the scheme of peace keeping that the United Nations have passed in the Secretariat. We are already prepared, as soon as the planning is done by the United Nations, to deploy the 4,000 troops in a very, very short time, a minimum of time. So we will try to do as much as possible, as rapidly as possible. But, again, this is not a European mission, but a United Nations mission, and you cannot expect that all the forces will be European. They will also be from other countries, who have already shown their interest to participate – countries from very far away, some of them: Malaysia, Indonesia, with whom I have been talking in the last period of time – I have even visited those countries, and they will probably deploy forces. Australia will probably deploy forces, Canada may deploy forces. So there will also be countries which are not members of the European Union.
Now, the second part of the question, the obligation of that force, is clearly defined in the Security Council resolution. As you know, it is not Chapter Seven, it is Chapter Six, and therefore, the mandate is the mandate for the rules of engagement, if I may say, talking in a more technical manner, are those which correspond with Chapter Six, not with Chapter Seven.
Q: I would like to ask Javier Solana. I think that you have mentioned in Ramallah today that European Union is working on a plan to reach to a comprehensive peace or any kind of talking which includes other parties who are in conflict right now, in the region. Can you elaborate on this and have you mentioned this plan before?
Javier Solana: What I have said, and what I keep saying and I keep saying, and you will hear me repeating that over and over and over again, is what you read in the resolution in the penultimate paragraph. When you read the resolution, not the last paragraph, but the one before, it talks about peace in the Middle East. It is necessary to have an approach now, which is comprehensive and it looks also, in a very direct manner to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. That is very clearly stated in the resolution, and I will repeat that very many times, because I believe in it.
Q: Foreign Minister, does Israel have any issue about countries like Indonesia and Malaysia taking part in this force to be deployed?
FM Livni: The idea is that the international force will be composed os states that can contribute to this force, in order to maintain a robust force and an effective force on the ground, because the task, the mission is not easy. We would like these forces assisting the Lebanese army to take responsibility for the south part of Lebanon. We believe that it should be a mixture of some European states and all the states that want to contribute to these forces. We are not negative, we are not going to say that there are some states that we believe should not be a part of this process. We are not against Muslim states, but, as I said before, it should be mixed.
Q: The impression that we have been getting from the Israeli speakers is that the resolution does not say Chapter Six, namely the enforcement capability, but in its words, it is almost that. Now Europe seems to be creating the impression that it is actually Chapter Six and no enforcement. Am I right in understanding what you are saying?
Javier Solana: I do not want to create any confusion. I am just stating what is in the resolution and I cannot go any further. As you know very well, it was a long debate about Chapter Six, Chapter Seven, and at the end the agreement was Chapter Six. Chapter Six has a type of rules of engagement which is different form Chapter Seven rules of engagement. That does not mean that the force is a weak force or not a robust force. . It is a robust force, to implement a Chapter Six resolution.
Q: What makes it a robust force?
Javier Solana: There may be moments, in which the situation requires action and you have to be prepared to act, and to be robust. But Chapter Seven is a chapter that speaks of peace keeping enforcement as a force. This is Chapter Six which has a different objective for the force.
FM Livni: I would like to add that, even though it is Chapter Six, looking at the resolution and the mandate of the forces, part of the mandate of the forces is not only to be observers but they can use force in order to implement their role as listed in this resolution. So the mandate is more than only observing forces, and we know that the same day that the resolution was adopted by the Security Council, also Secretary General Kofi Annan said that his intention is to arrange a robust and effective force on the ground.
Q: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, with your permission, a question in Hebrew: Today we heard government ministers criticize the fact that the army went into Lebanon, or expanded the ground actions, specifically on Friday evening – on the very day that the agreement seemed to be taking shape. On that very day, the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister decided to expand the ground actions. Government ministers ask why this was necessary. It’s a pity, during the whole operation the IDF was careful, went slowly, avoided casualties, and in the very last 24 hours, this quick operation brought heavy casualties. What can you say about that?
FM Livni (Hebrew): The decision was made by those authorized by the Cabinet to make the decisions, the prime minister and the defense minister, and there was an explicit reference by the prime minister to the fact that at the time of the decision, the discrepancies between the Israeli position and the draft resolution at the Security Council, were very large. At that time, I, too, made it clear that if this would be the draft to be submitted, Israel will not be able to live with this kind of resolution. Only during the subsequent hours was the resolution changed in a way that we felt addresses Israeli interests. I understand that the army asked for a number of hours in order to deploy in positions which will be suitable operationally. This was the request of the army and, on that basis, to the best of my understanding, the request was approved by the prime minister and the defense minister.
Q: Mr. Solana, do you think that the last conflict in Lebanon has shown us Iran is a negative force in the area?
Javier Solana: I think that it is very clear that Iran is not a positive force in the area.