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Israeli Justice Minister Emphasizes Support for U.S. Peace Efforts

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni spoke to the powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of Israel’s Knesset Tuesday, emphasizing that Israel is serious about U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to restart the peace talks.

“In my eyes it is not enough to hold talks for the sake of negotiations… the talks [need to[ reach an agreement” she said in a Hebrew-language briefing.

Kerry is in the region this week for another round of intensive diplomacy to get the peace talks back on track.

“The Secretary of State is coming, not for the first time. We are in intensive dialogue with him,” said Livni, who heads the Israeli team charged with pursuing peace talks. “The common goal of this government is to start negotiations between us and the Palestinians… direct negotiations. The purpose of the negotiations is to arrive at a permanent solution that ends the conflict.”

“The principle of opening negotiations [to end] the conflict based on the principle of two national states – that is the policy that we are leading now together with John Kerry, who I must say is vigorous and decisive and is very determined to start this process.”

Livni noted that changes in the region have forced Arab countries to become at least somewhat more pragmatic.

“The same group that understands Iran is the threat understands that Israel is not a threat… but when it comes to the [Arab] street… the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is exploited by the same extremist factors sometimes in order to incite the streets.”

Short of telling the committee that outgoing Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad would not be involved in the talks, Livni gave no details as to what the substance of the talks would be or what confidence building measures would be forthcoming.

“We are at the moment in a common attempt to start this process and naturally I cannot enter into the details in this situation, but I hope that the coming weeks will at least yield [a start of] the process.”

[Photo:  Tzipi Livni – ציפי לבני / Flickr]