Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rejected on Friday evening the contention that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue would bring an end to other regional conflicts, arguing instead that tensions in the Middle East stemmed from ideological differences between moderate and extreme elements, and not from a specific fight over territory. Speaking at the Saban forum in Washington DC, Livni never referred specifically to the Baker-Hamilton report, although her speech addressed issues raised therein, Israel Radio reported.
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Livni said that leaders of moderate Arab nations had told her confidentially that they were concerned over the growth of extremism in the region, especially as supported by Iran.
Iran's sponsorship of extremist organizations, Livni continued, was the most dangerous factor in the escalating Middle East crisis. The foreign minister added that Hamas - led by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, currently visiting Teheran - was contributing to the problem. On Friday, Haniyeh insisted that Hamas would "never" recognize Israel.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, currently visiting Germany, also addressed the Baker-Hamilton report. Rice said she doubted the report's recommendation that the US initiate talks with Syria and Iran on the Iraq war.
According to Rice, both Damascus and Teheran have yet to prove that they're interested in such a dialogue.
Rice also said that a deal on Iran sanctions was moving ahead, and that the main question remaining was whether Russia would agree to take action if Iran continues to flout international demands that it cease its nuclear enrichment activity.