Photo: Jacques Goaz, AFP
'Israel's existence is not negotiable.' Livni
Photo: Jacques Goaz, AFP
Photo: AFP
Tony Blair
Photo: AFP
Livni to U.K.: No intention to punish Palestinians
Israeli foreign minister meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying that despite firm demands from Hamas Israel determined to prevent humanitarian crisis in territories. Subject of IDF officers traveling abroad also discussed

LONDON - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni continued her European tour advocating support in the fight against Hamas. On Thursday she met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his residence on 10 Downing Street, in London. Livni made it clear that Israel has no intention to punish the Palestinian population following the Hamas victory, and stressed that the government will work toward preventing a humanitarian crisis in the PA.


Livni discussed her top priority subject, the IDF officers who experience difficulties traveling to London for fear of being arrested. The British response was that they view it as a mutual problem that has to be solved. "I gave this topic top priority, even ahead of the Hamas topic which is not less important", Livni told reporters after her meetings. "The subject surfaced initially when major-general Almog traveled to Britain."


‘Hamas searching for cracks in international community wall’


"The British clarified that the issue is being processed and I asked to expedite the solution since the issue is important for the Israeli citizens. To me it's clear and obvious that European countries, Britain included, should be accessible to an officer who finished his army service. What's left now is to keep 'nagging' them on the matter."


Livni, who described her meeting with Blair as practical and focused when it came to exchanging messages, told the British PM that the international community has to treat Hamas decisively. She also added that change in the Palestinian positions could only be achieved by strictly insisting on the prerequisite conditions that the international community set forth.


"I made it clear how the international community should act (following the Hamas victory), and stressed that we expect the community to stand behind the rules it established" said Livni. "The Hamas is searching for cracks in the international community wall; as far as we're concerned, Israel's existence is not negotiable".


‘Israel always valued its friendship with Britain’


These are difficult times for our region. Israel and the international community have to face new threats and challenges," added Livni in a press conference after the meeting. "Those include extreme Islamic organizations, leader like Iranian President (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), and the rise to power of Hamas in the PA.


“I believe that there is a link between what we witness now at the PA and Iran and the Hizbullah in Lebanon and other places – all those threats concern not only Israel but the entire international community."


"In my view, the international community's voice is extremely significant and the message that this community – and of course, Britain – will deliver to those terror organizations is crucial. After the elections at the PA, Hamas must understand that if it seeks legitimacy, it must change."


"Israel is not looking to punish the Palestinian people", affirmed the foreign minister. "That is the reason we're trying to work in union
with the international community to send a clear message to the Palestinian leadership – to Hamas, as well as to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas – to take responsibility, that Hamas has to alter its ways and that they have to accept the conditions of the international community before forming a new government. On the other hand, we believe that we need to find a way to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Authority.


“Israel always valued its friendship with Britain. We share the same principles, the same interests, and in my opinion, we also share the same path – the right path – in order to deal with those challenges."


Livni, who was asked about anti-Semitism, said that "anti-Semitism isn't the problem of Israel and the Jewish people only; I said that in France too. It's the problem of the society where it peaks its head out. Anti-Semitism is not a problem of one minority or another, or one country or another, it's a problem that every society and every leadership that respects itself and its values should treat. Every Jew has a right to live anywhere and it's the authorities' responsibility to provide him/her safety." 


Ronny Sofer contributed to the report


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