June 23, 2024
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Livni Discusses Difficult Roads Ahead

Minister of Justice Tzippi Livni, the lead negotiator for Israel in peace talks with the Palestinians, made her positions clear on Monday during a teleconference with reporters. Reiterating Israel’s position that peace must be achieved based on the concept of Two-States-for-Two-Peoples, she said “Despite lack of agreement, it is important to find on the other side those who are willing to accept and recognize the right of Israel to exist; those who will accept a formal peace agreement and will not seek violence and aggression. These people do exist on the Palestinian Authority side” she said, “and although there are differences, we need to continue and try to make peace with them.”

Hamas, she noted “responds to the conflict from a religious and nationalistic viewpoint. There is no compromise with religious conflicts. Since 2006 (when Hamas began to exert its control in Gaza) they have not been willing to accept the parameters of accepting Israel’s right to exist…The conflict is because of their ideology, not because Israel is doing something wrong.”

Israeli pundits and diplomats have been saying this week that Egypt and Israel share concerns about Hamas and incursions of other extremist groups. In an informal straw poll, taken on Wednesday, the Israeli population feels that Egypt should be trusted…at least for now…as a partner in setting up a long-term agreement with Hamas in Gaza. That deal will involve Saudi Arabia, and Egypt will probably become the conduit to channel goods and money into Gaza to rebuild it. The “enemy” is ISIL, Hamas and other extremist groups funded by Qatar and Iran.

As of last Monday, Livni would not accept Hamas’ conditions for the ceasefire. The point of negotiations is “not to appease Hamas…but rather to make the right decisions for the future….It’s a fight between the good guys and the bad guys—and we are the good guys. Terror will not succeed, humanitarian needs will be answered.”

Livni said two basic principles guide Israeli negotiators. First, that the basis of any formal agreement must include demilitarization. “There are mechanisms,” she said, “to check and supervise goods that enter Gaza and assure that materials, including cement, get to designated projects, with direct supervision by the international community.”

The second principle is assuring that the Palestinian Authority accepts the requirements designated by “The Quartet.” She suggested that opportunities to replace Hamas be developed. “Now is the time to reframe the conversation. This can be a new beginning.” She noted that control of Gaza by “the legitimate PA” could begin with having PA representatives at the crossings—a foot in the door. “If the Palestinians want a state, it will be only through the legitimate negotiating process.”

But… “If Hamas wins concessions on its demands,” cautioned Livni, “It sends a message to other terrorist groups that they, too can succeed. I want to make something clear. When it comes to security, it is a need we all share. We need to act against terrorist organizations in any agreement that we would reach with a legitimate PA government. We must keep the possibility that we will have real demilitarization in the West Bank.”

Asked if re-occupying Gaza was likely, the Minister dismissed it out of hand. “I don’t think that there is anybody in Israel who thinks it is the thing to do. Settlements and the need for security are two different things.”

By Maxine Dovere

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