Foreign Minster Tzipi Livni responds to Knesset no-confidence motion for the failure of Government policy in coping with the Palestinian problem

Honorable Speaker, Honorable Knesset, the policy of Israel’s government regarding Israel’s relations with the Palestinians is very clear, and I shall define it here point by point. Israel will negotiate with the legitimate Palestinian government, with the objective of reaching an agreement. Simultaneously, we will continue to fight terrorism wherever it erupts. To avoid any doubt, negotiating with the pragmatists is not a license for anyone to carry out any terrorist action against Israel, just as these negotiations do not provide immunity to any terrorist from Israel’s action against him, just as the negotiations are not an excuse for anyone not to combat terrorism, just as terrorism will not be an excuse for the Government of Israel to stop the negotiations. Anyone who contends here that it is necessary to cease negotiating because of the terrorism should be honest with himself and explain to me how cessation of the negotiations provides a response to terrorism.

Terrorism has one response, and that is force. The Government of Israel is committed to fighting terrorism, and Gaza is now clearly controlled by terrorists. Israeli citizens find themselves under the threat emanating from Gaza, and we shouldn’t delude ourselves – even if there are a few days that appear quieter or have fewer terrorist acts or fewer missiles are fired or the missiles don’t fall in populated areas or cause harm, this is not the point at all.

The terrorism coming out of Gaza shows that Gaza is ruled by a terrorist authority. So during these quiet days as well, they use this time to gain strength. Weapons are being brought into Gaza from Iran via Egypt. From the perspective of the State of Israel, this is not a situation we can continue to live with, as if nothing were happening, and while we conduct negotiations with the pragmatic Palestinians, we are also committed to providing the necessary response to terrorism.

I don’t think that we have to monitor every terrorist to determine which organization he belongs to. Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in Gaza, so our response to what is occurring in Gaza must be a complete answer to all threats. These threats are not only from high-trajectory firing but also from the terrorist government that is taking root there and gaining strength, establishing itself as a terrorist entity – something that the State of Israel cannot continue to live with.

In Annapolis, we stated that we would act along three planes, with each having its own existence, and would resolutely carry them out. Together they constitute the policy of the Government of Israel, and together – not each separately – they constitute the overall response to the problem that was presented here in the no-confidence motion.

One – the negotiations will continue. When I leave here I am going to meet with the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, and, just as I said that terrorism should not and cannot be an excuse for Israel not to enter the negotiating room, I expect that the Palestinians will not use any particular action that Israel carried out or will carry out against terrorism to refrain from entering that room.

These temptations are great, and the leadership is being tested here and also there as to its ability to continue the negotiations. We made clear at Annapolis that, alongside negotiations, we will continue to fight terrorism, and I expect them to continue to negotiate as well and not hand the keys to the negotiations over to Hamas.

The fact that we are negotiating does not impair our ability to combat terrorism and does not grant immunity to anyone. I expect, as I said earlier, that the Palestinians, too, will continue to operate along these two planes. Given that the legitimate government on the Palestinian side cannot influence or control what is happening in Gaza, it must accept the fact that Israel will act and fulfill its obligation to its citizens, and respond to the events in Gaza at the same time that we go into the negotiating room with them. These were the fundamental conditions for entering into negotiations.

Simultaneously, while we are negotiating to create a reality that takes into account Israel’s interests, seeks to set recognized borders for Israel while finding on the other side of the future border elements that give expression to Israel’s security needs – these are the issues that, inter alia, are on the negotiating table – so we, too, will have to make the necessary changes in Judea and Samaria. The formula is very clear and I have reiterated it in the past.

Palestinian economic issues are an Israeli interest. I am sure that the Opposition shares the opinion that economic projects in the Palestinian Authority must be promoted. But, just as Palestinian economic matters are part of the Israeli interest, so, too, Israeli security must be a Palestinian interest. And as we continue to use our capabilities to combat terrorism, our expectation is that the changes in Judea and Samaria will also include strengthening of the pragmatists so they will be able to act against the terrorism emerging from there.

So, these are the three ways that the Government of Israel will continue to act. One – peace negotiations with the pragmatists. Two – war on terrorism. One does not obstruct the other. Only if we know how to continue the two jointly can we arrive at any inclusive result that provides an answer for Israeli interests in advancing the negotiations and in reaching an arrangement, and also an answer, to which the citizens of Israel are entitled, to the terrorism coming out of Gaza. In this matter, there is no need for compromise, there is no intention to compromise, and this is our commitment. Simultaneously, we shall, of course, attempt to alter the daily reality in Judea and Samaria so as to give the two peoples the feeling that we are not simply making empty statements, but that we can in fact change the reality of daily life. This is the policy of the Government of Israel, and we shall continue to act in this way. Thank you.