'We can't sit by.' Livni
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Concerned. British FM Miliband
Photo: AFP

Livni: Hamas to blame for Gaza plight

Israeli FM tells British counterpart 'world's responsibility not to turn a blind eye, use all means at its disposal to stop terror'; Miliband expresses concern over continued settlement expansion

Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni called on the international community on Sunday to make clear to Hamas that it is responsible for the predicament of Gaza's residents.


Speaking at the start of her meeting with British Foreign Minister David Miliband, Livni said: "These are difficult days. While we are speaking here Israeli citizens are under attack by Hamas. Israel cannot just sit by and watch as its citizens are attacked… when Israel is attacked – Israel must respond."


"The Israeli government has a responsibility to protect its citizens, and it is the world's responsibility not to turn a blind eye and use all of the means at its disposal to stop terror," she said.


"Hamas is taking advantage of the situation in Gaza to try and garner international support. The international community must make it clear that this is unacceptable. Just as Hamas is to blame for the attacks on Israel, the group is also responsible for the situation in Gaza."


Miliband, for his part, expressed his concern over the continued settlement expansion in the West Bank, and called for the resumption of indirect talks between Israel and Syria.


Western diplomats said Miliband is pressing European partners for tighter control of imports to the European Union from the Jewish settlements, some of which are admitted at European ports as the produce of Israel and therefore enjoy tariff benefits under an Israel-EU treaty.


"We know of the British concern referring to this matter," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. "We have been involved for some time now in dialogue with our British counterparts in order to find a way to solve this issue."


'Curb flow of rockets to Hizbullah'

British Embassy spokeswoman Karen Kaufman said that in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday the two had a "clear exchange of views," on the subject but she said Miliband told Olmert that Israel was not seeking to rewrite existing agreements.


"The foreign secretary made it clear that Britain is not trying to shift the goal posts on this issue but is following up on representations made to us about the workings of the system," she said.


Miliband has also spoken of Israel's security concerns, among them the rockets aimed at northern Israel by the violent Syrian-backed Hizbullah militia just across the border in Lebanon.


"We've been engaging with the Syrian government for some time impressing upon them the responsibilities they have to curb the flow of rockets to Hizbullah to curb the flow of fighters into Iraq; to contribute positively to stability in the Middle East ultimately through normalization of their relations with Israel," he said in remarks broadcast Sunday by Israel Radio.


Miliband is scheduled to meet other Israeli officials on Monday and visit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, then travel on to Syria and Lebanon.


Reuters contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 11.16.08, 21:41
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