Livni: Syria preventing Shalit release

Foreign minister says country interfering with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

livni on cnn 88 (photo credit: )
livni on cnn 88
(photo credit: )
Syria has disrupted efforts to free kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit and interfered with attempts to defuse Israel's ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday. Syria has also caused trouble within the Palestinian Authority, Livni alleged. Whenever Hamas showed signs of cooperation with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Syria sent messages saying, "Don't do it," she said. "It is not even about a Syrian interest," Livni told an audience at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. "They want to dictate the Palestinian conflict. "We heard the first abducted soldier was being held ... in Hamas hands, and whenever there was a kind of chance to release him, the order came from Syria saying not to release him," she said. In June, Hamas-linked gunmen tunneled from Gaza into Israel, attacked an army post and killed two soldiers, capturing Shalit. Israel has insisted the soldier be freed before any other moves are made. Hamas has said it is demanding freedom for large numbers of prisoners Israel is holding in return for the soldier. Livni said Israel had lost a year of negotiations with the Palestinians after a Hamas victory in January's Palestinian legislative elections led to international sanctions and a divided and ineffectual government. She said Hamas should not have been allowed to take part in the elections because they sponsor terrorism. "Democracy is not about voting, but about values," she said. "There is a need to demand of any party, as part of the democratic system, to adopt the values of democracy before participating in elections. This is part of any democratic system in the world except in the Middle East." Livni said she still believed in a two-state solution, and urged Palestinian moderates who share common ground with Israelis to work with them. She called on moderate countries in the Middle East to join together and work to neutralize the extremist elements in the region. Regarding Iran, Livni said an offensive stance must be taken toward Teheran. She added that the international community should be prepared to defend its values before defending oil prices. The foreign minister warned that if the world did not react to the Iranian threat with appropriate seriousness, there was a danger that other Arab countries would either develop nuclear weapons or come under the influence of Teheran.