Livni Asks for Time in Paris

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni flew to Paris Thursday to meet with French officials, hoping to buy time for the IDF to finish the job in Gaza.

Hana Levi Julian ,

FM Tzipi Livni tours destroyed classroom
FM Tzipi Livni tours destroyed classroom
Israel News Photo: MFA

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni flew to Paris Thursday morning to meet with French officials, in hopes of buying more time for Israel to complete its military objectives in Gaza.

Livni will meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and her counterpart, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, in hopes of winning their understanding for the continuation of Operation Cast Lead until the IDF has accomplished its goals.

She is scheduled to return to Israel sometime in the evening. Sarkozy and Kouchner are expected to arrive in Israel on Monday as they continue to work towards a ceasefire.

Livni told reporters Wednesday afternoon in Sderot that she was hopeful that France would understand Israel's need for security and the reasons for continuing the operation until its objectives are reached. 

"I believe that President Sarkozy, since I know him and know what he believes in, can relate to this," she said. She noted that she had just left Be'er Sheva, where one Grad missile exploded the night before in the courtyard of a kindergarten, and a second missile at 8:00 a.m. severely damaged a 9th-grade classroom at a centrally-located high school. Had the city not shut down its schools for the day, the consequences could have been tragic.

"There are certain things that nobody can accept," Livni said. "No state in the world would have accepted the fact that its citizens are being targeted and children cannot go to school or kindergartens because of these terrorists."

Livni said that Arab leaders in the region are also aware that the conflict is no longer a conflict between Israel and Palestinian Authority Arabs, but rather a conflict between moderates and the extremists.

"They know that Iran is the threat in this region, to them as well, not only the Palestinians, but the pragmatic Palestinian leadership, and also to other Arab and Muslim states, and they know the nature of this threat, believe me, better than the rest of us. Because the Arab world faces this kind of radical element back home, they know that we cannot afford Hamas in the region," she explained.

Livni acknowledged that the war might not be a popular war in the region, and could be difficult for the leadership to maintain in the face of public opinion over a long period of time. She also admitted that "pictures coming from the Gaza Strip are not easy to look at, that they show the despair of the people, and they show wounded people. This is something that provokes and that creates hard feelings and hatred against Israel."

However, she said, the cost-benefit ratio had been weighed by the government and a decision had been made to act now, to end the threat of an Iranian-powered Hamas, before it becomes any stronger.

"If Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, Hamas is getting stronger - and if Hamas gains more power in the West Bank, the Palestinian state and the Palestinian society are doomed," she said.