Tzipi Livni praises Arab peace initiative but says peace is more than just piece of paper, notes that Saudi message in interfaith dialogue conference inadequate; Foreign minister adds that talks with Palestinians in very advanced stages
NEW YORK – Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Wednesday that while Saudi King Abdullah's peace initiative is important, the words of Arab leaders at the United Nation's interfaith dialogue conference are inadequate.
Speaking at a press conference in UN Headquarter in New York, Livni said that "peace is more than just a piece of paper," adding that all parties to peace negotiations must also fight extremism.
The foreign minister added that for the first time there is an understanding that Mideastern leaders cannot turn a blind eye to what goes on in mosques and schools.
During the press conference, also attended by President Shimon Peres and UN Ambassador Gabriella Shalev, Livni expressed her support for the Saudi peace initiative, stressing that it does not include the issue of Palestinian refugees.
Livni said Israel accepts the initiative, adding that Arab leaders realize that regional problems must be resolved through negotiations, rather than dictates.
'Peace talks in advanced stages'
While in New York, Livni also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. She said that peace talks between the sides are in very advanced stages, noting that the success so far, among other reasons, stems from the fact that no details have been leaked.
"The Palestinians need the Arab world's support," Livni said.
The foreign minister added that while Israel engages in talks with pragmatic Palestinians, incitement continues at mosques and schools.
Responding to a question about Jerusalem's division, Livni said: "Jerusalem is Israel's eternal capital," adding that Israel decided that all important issues, including refugees, borders, settlements, and water will only be discussed in the framework of talks on a final-status agreement.
Meanwhile, President Peres said that "nobody expects Israel to accept the Arab peace initiative as is." However, he added that he sees genuine and positive change, and that "if there's a will, there's a way."
Peres also praised Saudi Arabia's king, noting that the conference marked the first time that a Saudi king stayed in the room to hear a speech delivered by an Israeli representative.