Livni: 'Current events' must not affect talks

Tzipi Livni tells European ambassadors Israel will cut ties with PA if unity gov't formed with Hamas.

Livni stresses point 224 (photo credit: AP [file])
Livni stresses point 224
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that began Wednesday with mutual recriminations need to be divorced from "current events," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told EU ambassadors at a meeting Thursday. Livni, according to one of the meeting's participants, stressed that both sides started the bilateral negotiation process on the assumption that negotiations needed to take place regardless of the situation on the ground. She said that Israel made it clear that it would negotiate even though the security situation remained "problematic" and the first stage of the road map had not been implemented, implying that the Palestinians also needed to take a similar position. Various Palestinian officials have called for a boycott of the talks until Israel stops military activity in Gaza or halts building in Har Homa. Alternatively, they have asked the US to already get involved in the talks and act as a referee. Livni, who was asked by the ambassadors how Har Homa would impact the pace of the negotiations, said the construction there was approved years ago, and that the Palestinian side should not be deterred from continuing negotiations because of a decision that was not made by this government. According to the participant in the meeting, Livni said Israel was aware that it had obligations under the first stage of the road map. The road map calls for a halt of construction in the settlements, including for natural growth. Regarding Iran, Livni said the US National Intelligence Estimate that said Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, was widely misread by the media as implying that Iran was no longer a danger, while both the report's authors and the US administration clearly were still very concerned about Teheran and its intentions. Livni reportedly said that negotiations with the PA would come to an end if Fatah decided to reestablish a unity government with Hamas. Livni also met Thursday with Robert Serry of the Netherlands, who in January is to formally become the UN's Middle East envoy. Livni, according to her office, told Serry that Israel saw no reason for international intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian bilateral talks. She said, however, that the international community could play a significant role in creating the "security and economic conditions" that would make possible the establishment of a Palestinian state. Regarding the international community's potential economic role, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Thursday with Quartet envoy Tony Blair to discuss the upcoming Paris conference of donor countries to the PA. The conference hopes to raise some $5.6 billion. Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said Israel was "very supportive" of the Paris conference. He said it was clear that "the creation of a more healthy Palestinian society and more successful Palestinian economy, with a stronger democratic political institution, is in Israel's national interest." This, Regev said, was why Israel was supportive of Blair's efforts to "help strengthen the Palestinian institutions and economic and political structure."