This is a moment of truth for the government of Lebanon and for the international community. A cease-fire alone will create a vacuum that Hizbullah will fill with more terrorism.
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
The following statement was issued by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni on the arrival of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Jerusalem:
Allow me, first of all, to welcome Secretary Rice to Israel.
This is a very important visit at a most difficult time. The free world is facing threats that seek to undermine our stability and our values.
The goals of Hizbullah, as part of an axis of terror which also includes Syria, Iran and Hamas, are to set the region in flames and dictate the Israeli-Palestinian agenda. We cannot and will not let them succeed.
The entire free world, led by the United States, shares a common understanding of the threats that we all face. The free world also shares a common vision about the way to resolve the situation in Lebanon. These goals were established in Security Council resolution 1559 and in the recent G8 statement:
- The kidnapped Israeli soldiers must be released;
- Hizbullah must be disarmed;
- and Lebanese sovererignty must be exercised, by the Lebanese Armed Forces, in all of Lebanon.
Let me be clear. Israel has no conflict with the people of Lebanon and does not want to undermine the government of Lebanon. But Israel also has no higher responsibility than to defend its citizens from attack.
Now, perhaps more than ever, a window of opportunity has been opened. This is a moment of truth for the government of Lebanon – to take resopnsibility over its entire territory, as is expected of any government. And this is a moment of truth for the international community. A cease-fire alone will create a vacuum that Hizbullah will fill with more terrorism.
There is a need for the international community to assist the Lebanese government to confront and disarm the Hizbullah terrorists, in order to create a better future for all the peoples of the region. Israel is ready and willing to cooperate with the international community on the basis of these mutual goals.