Livni: I think of Temple Mount prayers during negotiations
Foreign minister tells Jerusalem Conference she approaches talks with Palestinians with 'tears of paratroopers at the Western Wall' in her mind. 'Time is not on Israel's side, and we will eventually have to concede parts of the country,' she adds
The tears of the paratroopers at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount prayers accompany me in the negotiations room, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday at the opening session of fifth annual Jerusalem Conference held at the Hyatt Hotel in the capital.
During the session, which was dedicated to the Jerusalem issue, the minister said that "as the person holding negotiations on behalf of Israel, I do not accept the distinction between Right and Left.
"We all have a common denominator, and I do not accept the differentiation between those who seek peace and those who love the Land of Israel. We all love Israel and we all want peace."
Livni stressed that there may be disagreements throughout the negotiations, but that everyone must remember that the joint goal is a democratic Jewish state and a safe country in the Land of Israel.
"There will no one in the political arena who will not say that this is a decision we must reach eventually, and it is our responsibility to do the right thing," she said.
The foreign minister went on to explain Israel's main goals of the negotiations: Two states for two people; not taking part in finding a solution for the Palestinian refugee problem; a Palestinian state which will provide a complete solution to the refugee camps and the Palestinian aspirations.
Livni clarified that a Palestinian state including Gaza "will undergo substantial alteration in the Strip," and stressed that "Israel's security is not only an Israeli interest, but an essential step ahead of a Palestinian state."
Addressing the calls to cease the negotiations in light of recent terror attacks, the foreign minister said, "Halting the negotiations will not stop terror. Terror must be answered with force, and simultaneously we must create a process with the moderate elements.
"It's true that they are still unable to implement agreements, but I believe that it's time, otherwise it will be too late. The time passing by is not benefiting us," she said.
In favor of disengagement
Livni also referred to the disengagement plan and to the evacuation of Gush Katif residents from their homes.
"I voted in favor of the process which removed 7,000 Jews from their homes, and I still believe this should have been done. We are entering the negotiations room in a pragmatic manner. I did not delude myself that an agreement will lead to a solution in Gaza."
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who opened the session, turned to Livni during his speech. "The right over Jerusalem is a proven, historic right. When the Muslims pray in the mosques on the Temple Mount, they pray with their back to the West Wall, with their back to Jerusalem.
"Talking about Jerusalem harms us. If we unite for the sake of our capital, which cannot be discusses, we shall win it," he said.