Livni spurns Mubarak's 'restraint' call

Foreign minister stresses she didn't come to Egypt "to receive approval for a military operation."

Mubarak meets Livni 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Mubarak meets Livni 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
At the completion of a visit to Cairo Thursday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stressed that she didn't come to Egypt "to receive approval for a military operation" but rather "to discuss an intolerable situation for the citizens of Israel, and what Israel must do to protect its citizens." During his meeting with Livni, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urged Israel to show restraint when deciding how to respond to the ongoing Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli communities in the western Negev over the past week, according to an Israeli official and Livni's Egyptian counterpart. The Egyptian president said that he was urging Hamas and the other Palestinian factions in Gaza to cease their rocket fire immediately. He also expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and urged Israel not to employ "collective punishment" against the Palestinians in Gaza. In response, Livni said that Israel would not be able to keep from responding to the attacks, especially in light of the fact that Hamas itself announced that it would not renew the cease-fire. During a press conference which followed the meeting, Livni reiterated Israel's position. "Hamas needs to understand that our aspiration to live in peace doesn't mean that Israel is going to take this kind of situation any longer. Enough is enough," Livni said. "We cannot tolerate a situation in which Hamas continues to target Israel, Israel's citizens, and this situation is going to be changed." "Unfortunately, there is one address to the situation of the people in the Gaza Strip; this is Hamas, Hamas controls them, Hamas decided to target Israel, this is something that has to be stopped and this is what we're going to do," she continued. "Yesterday's escalation was unbearable," Livni said after a day during which Gaza terrorists bombarded southern Israel with more than 80 rockets and mortar shells. Livni stressed that the upcoming elections in Jerusalem would have no bearing on Israel's response to the Gaza rocket fire. "If Hamas thinks that because Israel is in election season, that it won't do what any democratic country would do to protect its citizens, then it's wrong," she said. "We want to negotiate with whomever we can, but we will fight whoever doesn't believe in it." "Hamas's control of the Gaza Strip is not only Israel's problem; we understand the needs of Egypt but what we are doing is an expression of the needs of the region," Livni went on. Israel is running out of patience with Hamas, she warned, calling the group an obstacle on the road to a Palestinian state. Gheit expressed Egyptian concerns that without restraint, Egypt would no longer be able to mediate between Israel and the Gaza factions. "We can't imagine that we will be able to convince the two parties to return to a truce, as long as the heightening confrontation continues," Gheit said. "We hope for self-restraint and that the two parties apply what they have been implementing in the past six months." "The Egyptian goal is to keep the truce and secure it. The real goal is to give a chance for a Palestinian-Palestinian reconciliation and for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations," he added.