This is an important visit during the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. While negotiating with the Palestinians, we also need to address the situation in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.
Statements by Israel Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prior to their meeting in Jerusalem
Sunday, 15 June 2008
FM LIVNI: I would like to welcome Secretary Rice to the region. This is an important visit during the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The situation in the Middle East, like always, is complicated. And while negotiating with the Palestinians, we also need to address difficulties on the ground, especially the situation in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, as you are well aware.
So we are going to discuss the whole situation in the region, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Iranian issue, and I’m sure that it’s going to be fruitful. Thanks.
SEC. RICE: Thank you very much, Tzipi, for welcoming me here again. I look forward to our discussions, to getting an update on how your discussions are going with Abu Ala concerning the peace process. We’ve stayed in constant contact and so I feel that I have a good sense of where you are and where you’re trying to go.
It is an important time for the peace process, and I agree with you, the situation in the Middle East is always complicated. So we mustn’t let that deter us from seeking the solution to the crisis, to the conflict that you have been working toward.
I’ve told the Foreign Minister that I will also raise the issue of settlements, because I’m very concerned that at a time when we need to build confidence between the parties, the continued building and the settlement activity has the potential to harm the negotiations going forward. And so we’ll talk about that as well. We’ll also talk about the importance of stopping the violence from the Gaza Strip where Israeli citizens continue to endure the constant barrage of rockets, and that must stop.
So we have a lot on our plate. I will also have an opportunity to talk with the Foreign Minister about what I heard in Europe concerning the situation with Iran and to update you on Javier Solana’s efforts there. So I look forward to the discussions.