Press Availability With Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Hello. Good evening. I would like to welcome again in the region, in Jerusalem, the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. And this visit in Jerusalem is part of the ongoing mutual effort to empower the moderates throughout the region in the struggle against extremism and terror. And today, tonight, we will continue in our consultations in order to find the best way to do it in a variety of different fronts in Lebanon, Iran and of course the Palestinian Authority. When it comes regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the goal is clear: two states, two different homelands living side by side in peace and security.
The elections in the Palestinian Authority last year made the situation more complicated, more dangerous and the requirements of the international community from any Palestinian government are clear. Of course, part of our responsibility is to give the moderate Palestinians a political horizons – horizon — while providing the Israelis security. In Sderot, a place in which they are being attacked on a daily basis, and elsewhere. And this is, of course, part of any process.
And I would like to thank personally Secretary of State for the determination, understanding, and this is part of our mutual responsibility to find a way for a better future for us all. Thank you so much.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you very much, Minister Livni. Tzipi, it's great to be here again in Jerusalem. Indeed, this is a very important and challenging time in the Middle East, but a time that I believe does have promise if we exercise our responsibilities with creativity and with resolve. It is a time when extremist forces are attempting to make it impossible to have the kind of Middle East in which Israelis and Palestinians and other people of the Middle East can live in peace and in which democracy can make progress. But we're determined to resist their efforts and also to strengthen the hand of those who wish to resist their efforts, because I believe most people of the Middle East, in fact, do want to live in a place where their children can grow up in peace.
We will discuss, of course, the strategic issues concerning Iran. I will brief the Foreign Minister on the President's Iraq plan. And of course, we will talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, how to accelerate progress on the roadmap, how to work toward a political horizon, because I think that we both understand fully that for both the Palestinian and the Israeli people, two states living side by side in peace is not just a dream, it's something that we must make a reality.
And so thank you very much for having me here.
FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: I think we're to take one question per side.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary and Minister Livni, why do you both think that there is an opening and some promise in the situation right now between Israel and the Palestinians given the fact that Israel's government has been historically weak politically right now and there is so much conflict among the Palestinians? What makes you think that there is some hope for an opening?
SECRETARY RICE: …
As to why there may be an opening now, first of all, one always has to remain optimistic and one has to exercise one's responsibilities to try and pursue peace. I would just cite the very important speech that Prime Minister Olmert made holding out a hand to the Palestinians, the very good meeting that's just taken place between Prime Minister Olmert and Prime Minister Abbas, the work that Minister Livni has been doing in Europe and in the region to promote the formulation of a foundation for moving to a two-state solution.
And perhaps most of all, I really do think that people want to try and end this conflict. There are a lot of obstacles in the way, but the purpose of diplomacy, the purpose of leadership, is to try to remove those obstacles so that this conflict can finally end.
FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Thank you. I mean, this vision of two states living side by side in peace and security, it's not only the Israeli Government policy. This represents the vast majority of Israelis and this is so — there is no connection between the strength of — the political strength of any Israeli government and the need to explore and to find a way to promote a process which will represent or will be based on two pillars. One of course is the political horizons for the Palestinians and the other is giving Israeli security. This is part — and this is going to be the part of any process.
And I do believe that if an Israeli government and if this government comes to the Israeli public in this vision saying that on one hand there's a need to promote this process of two-state solution, on the other hand it is part of our responsibility and Israel will provide security to Israelis wherever they are, so this is something that the Israeli public can not only accept but also support. And I believe that this is part of our responsibility. This is the reason that the Israeli public voted for us. And there is of course — there are new threats in the region and I can say and I already said that the situation now is more complicated, but part of our responsibility is also to see not only the threats but to see whether there is also new opportunities.
And this vision represents not only the Israeli interest but the interest of the moderates, Israel and the moderates among the Palestinians. And part of this — not only the Palestinians but part of also other Arab and Muslim states in the region in the understanding that we share the same interests, that it's not a zero-sum game in terms of helping Israel is anti-Palestinian. And so even though there are new threats, I also think that there are new opportunities. And it's not easy. It's going to be complicated. But it is part of our responsibility to find a way to do it.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, given the suggestion that the Palestinian Authority (inaudible) that they are ready to waive the first phase of the roadmap, do you support their ideas? And for Foreign Minister Livni, are you going to propose new ideas to the Secretary in steps on the roadmap?
FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Thank you. The roadmap represents a situation that was clear after Camp David. I mean, the idea of solving the conflict in one conference we found out that this is impossible and there's a need to give the Palestinian a political horizon but to cut the process into some phases. And this is the basic principles of the roadmap. And but yes, I do and I was not talking about jumping or skipping or bypassing some of the phases of the roadmap, but I do believe that talking with the Palestinians today what are the best steps that we can take and maybe to make some visions or some — what we say the political horizon more concrete if this can help, so this is something that we have to do. But there's a difference and we can distinguish talking with the Palestinians and implementing parts one before the other, and I believe that this is the difference maybe and maybe the kind of misunderstanding that was in the understanding of talking or implementing the phases in a different order.
SECRETARY RICE: We continue to support the roadmap as a reliable guide to the President's two-state vision, in fact the vision now of all who are signed on to it. One of the very great values of the roadmap is that it has international support. It is the Quartet's document, it is Israel's document, it is the Palestinians' document, and it has therefore I think a very important function. And we should never as we look for ways to push forward and to keep moving forward throw out the good work that we've done before, and obviously the roadmap is very important.
I want just to note too that we have — the President has always said that he believes that one of the most important things that he could do in his Presidency would be to make progress toward, indeed if possible establish the foundation for a Palestinian state. And so nothing should get in the way of the broadest possible conversations certainly between friends about how to do that.