(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Russia has neither dismissed the idea of backing a third round of sanctions against Iran, nor obligated itself to do so, Prime Minster Ehud Olmert said in Paris on Monday.
On the same day, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told two ranking Russian diplomats visiting Jerusalem that there was a need for additional sanctions on Iran.
Olmert, discussing his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last Thursday, said at a press briefing in Paris that he "left Moscow with a more comfortable feeling than he went there with."
Livni met Monday with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, and Moscow's envoy to the Quartet Sergei Yakovlev, who are here as part of a regional trip that will also take them to the PA, Jordan and Egypt. A statement put out by Livni's office after the meeting Monday gave no indication whether she felt that the Russians were any closer to sanctions now than they were before Olmert's visit.
The two Russian diplomats also met Monday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The Iranian issue, specifically the question of how to deal with Russia's position on the matter, is likely to come up at a meeting Livni is scheduled to hold Tuesday with Georgia's visiting Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili.
Bezhuashvili, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, said that the international community must deal with Russia from a position of unity and strength, and not try to appease it.
"The best recipe I would recommend to Europeans is to stick together and speak to Russia with one voice," he said. "Russia should not be hearing Berlin and Paris separately. Russia should be seeing and hearing Brussels, the EU, a consolidated voice." He said that Russia can be successfully engaged if it faces a united front that includes the EU, US, Israel, Georgia and its neighbors.
"Debate with Russia, do not appease Russia, that is my message," he said. "Appeasement of Russia will not bear results. If they see you as weak, they will put you down using your weaknesses."
Livni's office also said that the foreign minister spoke with the two Russian diplomats about the diplomatic process with the Palestinians and the need for them to fulfill their obligations under the road map to uproot the terrorist infrastructure.
Barak echoed Livni's words at a Labor faction meeting Monday night, telling party MKs that Israel would demand that the Palestinians dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.
"All the talks at Annapolis will be preceded by the understanding that the Palestinians crack down on terrorists," said Barak.
Earlier this month Saltanov called for an international conference that will deal not only with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but with the whole Middle East, including Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
He said that the planned US meeting in Annapolis should lay the groundwork for a larger-scale international conference that would deal with all dimensions of the Middle East political situation. This is an idea that Putin put forward months ago.
Sheera Claire Frenkel contributed to this report