FM Livni Promises More Withdrawals

Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni announced Saturday that she supports further retreats from Judea and Samaria.

Ezra HaLevi ,

Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni announced Saturday that she supports further retreats from Judea and Samaria.

Speaking to Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper, Livni promised, "the pullout from the Gaza Strip was not the last withdrawal. We are convinced that to establish a Palestinian state, we have to withdraw from other areas."

"The majority of the Israeli nation understands not only the need for peace, but also the need to compromise for a solution to achieve this peace,” Livni said. “And in this context, I present the vision, shared by the majority, of a two-state solution, one for Jews and one for Palestinians.”

Livni lamented that “moderate Palestinian leaders” were preventing the Israeli withdrawal by failing to reduce terrorism against the Jewish state. "Israel does not want to rule over the Palestinians," Livni said.

Asked by the interviewer whether Israel left Gaza because it was a “burden” Livni said: "When I decide to uproot 7,000 [sic] settlers from their homes, many of whom were born in Gaza, it is untrue to say that their presence there was a burden on Israel. Believe me, this decision was a courageous, difficult and painful decision.”

FM Livni in Egypt to Discuss Saudi Plan
Livni met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Thursday regarding the so called Saudi Peace Plan, which offers Israel recognition in return for a retreat from all areas liberated in the 1967 war, as well as a return of all Arabs and their descendents that fled Israel during the 1948 War of Independence.

Foreign Ministers from Egypt and Jordan will visit Israel in the coming month as representatives of the Arab league to discuss the Saudi plan.

Mubarak said the visit would not be postponed due to the Olmert government’s precarious position following the publication of the Winograd Committee’s findings regarding its failures during last summer’s Lebanon War.

Mubarak and Livni also discussed Egypt’s failure to prevent the widespread smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza from the Egyptian-controlled Sinai.

Livni expressed hope that the Arab League can offer Israelis hope for a political solution. "I do believe that the Arab world, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is important,” Livni said. “It can support the process, it can give Israel a political horizon and it can help the Palestinians make further progress when it comes to future agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Livni Criticized
Opposition MKs expressed outrage at Livni’s remarks. "The concept of unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza brought security tragedies in the form of rockets," MK Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP) said. "Livni should learn from past mistakes and stop promoting a failed withdrawal policy.”

Likud faction head MK Gidon Sa’ar said Livni’s statements were incomprehensible in light of her having admitted in the past that the Disengagement increased terrorism. "Livni’s weakness, and that of her associates, is that they learn nothing from their mistakes and refuse to acknowledge reality. This will lead to another war rather than bringing us closer to peace."

Even MK Zehava Gal-On, from the extreme-left Meretz faction criticized Livni’s remarks, saying the Olmert government “has no mandate to carry out such withdrawals.”