FM Livni meets with Portuguese PM Socrates (Photo: Alberico Alves)
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau)
On 14-15 June, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni visited Portugal, which is to assume the EU Presidency in July 2007. There, she met with Foreign Minister Luis Amado, President Anibal Cavaco Silva, Assembly President Jaime Gama and Prime Minister Jose Socrates. Livni discussed with her hosts Israel's relations with the EU, Israel-Portugal bilateral relations, and current topics concerning the Middle East.
Livni stressed that Israel is strongly in favor of a dual strategy towards the Palestinians, supported by the international community, that exerts constant pressure on the extremists insisting on adherence to the three conditions of the Quartet, while at the same time, reinforcing the moderates – and encouraging moderates in the Arab world to lend them their support.
FM Livni said: "Israel is closely following the situation in the Gaza Strip. The recent pictures from Gaza provide clear testimony to the true nature of Hamas, which certainly is not serving Palestinian interests. Hamas has created a separate reality in Gaza, different from the West Bank, turning Gaza into a trap for the Palestinian people. Israel is waiting to see whether the Palestinian moderates are willing to create a better political reality."
In answer to a question regarding Palestinian taxes collected and held by Israel, Livni said that the Israeli government has already stated that if the Palestinian government would not be a Hamas government, and if it would accept the conditions set by the Quartet, there would be no reason not to transfer the funds to the PA. There is no change in this position.
FM Livni also related to the ongoing arms smuggling from Egypt to the Gaza Strip through the Philadelphi corridor and stressed the importance of increased Egyptian intervention. Concerning the possibility of stationing an international force there, Livni pointed out that the effectiveness of such a force must be carefully examined, as to whether such a force could function better than mere international observers who have no real power to act.