Livni called on her colleagues to exert pressure on the Palestininan Authority and Hamas to ensure the immediate and safe release of the abducted Israeli citizens and to bring an end to the use of Palestinian territory as a base for terrorist operations.

Text of letter from Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni to Foreign Ministers
28 June 2006

Excellency,

As you are aware, last Sunday operatives of the Hamas terrorist organization, which constitutes the Palestinian Authority government, in conjunction with other Palestinian terrorist gorups, infiltrated Israel at Kerem Shalom, adjacent to the Gaza Strip. In the ensuing attack, clearly weeks in the planning, the terrorists killed two Israeli soldiers and abducted Corporal Gilad Shalit, aged 19, who is believed to be alive and held by his captors in Gaza.

This attack was launched after long weeks of Israeli restraint in the face of numerous attempted kidnappings and unceasing Kassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip that have targeted civilians, schools and homes, traumatized children and paralyzed the Israeli city of Sderot.

It should be emphasized that last summer Israel fully withdrew from the Gaza Strip in order to create an opportunity to re-energize the peace process. In return, it has received a daily barrage of terrorist attacks from Gaza and a Palestinian Authority controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization that has proudly claimed responsibility for Gilad’s abduction, and continues to be actively involved in terrorism, while fundamentally rejecting Israel’s very right to exist.

From the moment initial reports of the kidnapping were received, Israel has spared no effort in exhausting all diplomatic channels at its disposal and has given Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, every opportunity to secure the safe release of Gilad Shalit.

But while Israel has given full priority to diplomatic efforts, it cannot tolerate a situation where its citizens are being held hostage by members of Hamas. As every hour passes, the threat to the life and well-being of Gilad Shalit intensifies, and the urgency of action to end this crisis grows.

In light of the absence of progress through diplomatic channels, IDF forces have begun to operate in the Gaza Strip. The military operation is specific in nature and limited in scope. Its purpose is neither punishment nor retaliation, and every effort will be made to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians. It seeks only to fulfill Israel’s legitimate need and responsibility to bring Gilad safely home and prevent tne continuation of terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel and its citizens.

Israel did not leave the Gaza Strip in order to return to it, and will withdraw the moment the military operation achieves its objectives. At the same time, like any state, Israel cannot accept a situation where its citizens are targeted on a daily basis and it is compelled to take the necessary defensive measures to ensure their safety.

As I write these lines, Palestinian terrorists are boasting the abduction of an additional Israeli citizen, Eliyahu Asheri, aged 18, and are publicly threatening to execute him.

These grave attacks, taking place with the full involvement and blessing of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, only confirm the importance of the policy adopted by the international community following the success of the Hamas terrorist organization in the Palestinian elections, and the three core conditions it has stipulated that any Palestinian government must fulfill to be considered a legitimate political partner.

It is critical that the international community continue to strictly adhere to this policy and not be led astray by vague Palestinian formulations adopted for political convenience that blatantly fail – even at an elementary level – to demonstrate any commitment to any of these three conditions. The Palesitnian Authority is led by a terrorist government that remains committed to a radical and militant Islamic ideology, continues – even at this very moment – to engage in terrorism and reject the basic tenets of the peace process. Any such government must be treated accordingly – not be rewarded or appeased. Our common commitment to fighting terrorism, and strengthening those genuinely committed to peace, demands no less.

In this context, I urge you to exert all possible pressure on the Palestininan Authority and on the Hamas terrorist organization, including its members and sponsors in Damascus, so as to ensure the immediate and safe release of the abducted Israeli citizens and to finally bring an end to the use of Palestinian territory as a base for terrorist operations.