Livni: Peace deal must address Kassams

Tells US envoy that if Gaza part of state Palestinians want to establish then it can't be discounted in talks.

Livni stresses point 224 (photo credit: AP [file])
Livni stresses point 224
(photo credit: AP [file])
A solution to threats from the Gaza Strip will have to be found before the establishment of a Palestinian state, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told James Jones, the US special envoy for Middle East security, on Thursday. Jones, who met with Livni after meetings the last two days in Cairo and Amman, is in the process of drawing up a plan about how to provide security in the interim period between when Israel leaves large swaths of the West Bank under any possible peace agreement, and when the Palestinian Authority is able to take over control of the vacated areas. Livni, however, told Jones there was a need to relate to the situation "on the ground right now," and that "the necessary action to be taken regarding security issues is not only in relation to what will be written in a future agreement." "The situation in the Gaza Strip must be taken into account in any political process - especially in light of the effects of this process on future security arrangements," Livni said, according to a statement issued from her office. "This is not a territorial issue - we have withdrawn from Gaza, and the rocket attacks continue and intensify," she said. "A real response must be given to the threats from the Gaza Strip prior to the establishment of a Palestinian state - as long as the Palestinians see Gaza as part of the state they intend to establish. A solution to Israel's security requirements is not an obstacle to peace, it is a basic condition of any peace agreement." In addition to meeting Livni, Jones also met Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) heads on Thursday. He arrived in Israel last Friday, and held a series of talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials before going to Amman on Monday. Jones is expected to submit his report by the summer. Government officials said that even if at this time, considering the situation today in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli withdrawal from large parts of the West Bank seems like "science fiction," his report will likely serve as one of the Middle East policy guides for the next US administration. In a related development, US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch was scheduled to arrive Thursday night for one of his routine visits and talks with both Israeli and Palestinian officials. US officials said this visit was not connected to the crisis in Gaza, although the situation there would obviously be addressed. Welch's boss, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is expected to pay another visit here in early March, her fist visit back since she was here in early January with US President George W. Bush.