FM Livni met today with a Democratic delegation from the US House of Representatives for a briefing on Israel-Palestinian issues.

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni met today (Monday, 13 August 2007) with a delegation of 18 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the meeting, FM Livni stated that the division in Palestinian society could lead in different directions. Different geographical expressions, between Hamas and Fatah on the one hand and between Gaza and the West Bank on the other, allow us to relate in a different manner to each group. If the problem in the Gaza Strip deteriorates, a military solution will be required, while the new Palestinian government allows a meaningful dialogue.

Any arrangement with the new Palestinian government must express the widest common denominator achievable by negotiation. Actual implementation will be conditional, and will relate to those areas over which the Palestinian government has effective control and in which adequate conditions to protect Israel’s security requirements exist.   

FM Livni added that the international meeting in November would have significance only if Israel and the Palestinians are be able to reach an agreement which both the Arab world and the international committee will be able to support beforehand. This agreement will afford a way to move forward on the bilateral level, in parallel to advances in the normalization process with the Arab world.

With regard to the two-state issue, FM Livni stressed that it is a question of two nationalities, and a basic principle of the agreement must be that the solution to the refugee problem will be the founding of a Palestinian state – this is the only just, historical compromise. Israel must not compromise on or even discuss the number of refugees, as this will harm Israels’ legitimacy. Israel expects the support of the entire international community on this issue. The Palestinian leadership will be able to accept this, as will the leadership of the Arab world, if the international community steadfastly adopts this principle as a condition for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Foreign Minister Livni added: "Hamas represents an ideology that does not serve the Palestinian national interest and sabotages the chances to achieve a solution of two nation states. A clear distinction must be made between extremists and moderates, between Hamas and the new Palestinian government. The success of dialogue with the moderates requires that parallel pressure be exerted on Hamas. The Palestinian population, as well as the international community, must choose between the moderates who represent hope and the extremists who perpetuate the conflict. Political approbation of terror and its extremist ideology, as well as tacit legitimization undermine the moderates and their ability to achieve real agreement. This is a decisive time, and only international determination will enable a breakthrough."