Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni Monday evening, hoping to find a way to persuade Israel to consider at least a temporary ceasefire in its Operation Cast Lead against the Hamas terrorist organization ruling Gaza. Blair, who represents the body comprised of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, arrived in Israel earlier in the day.
"The world has to understand that it must choose a camp – Israel or the terrorists," Livni told visiting European officials earlier in the day. She declared that it was unlikely that international observers could be helpful at this point.
She declared that it was unlikely that international observers could be helpful at this point.
The Foreign Minister spoke in Jerusalem with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, with whom she met in Paris last week. The French leader also met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in Ramallah.
Livni told reporters after the meeting that Israel does not need to apologize for defending itself and that the war on terror will continue.
She also said that Israel "doesn't do deals with terror, we fight terror," adding that Israel would "change the equation in the region" and that the days of "Hamas firing rockets and Israel showing restraints" had ended.
Livni emphasized, as she has repeatedly in numerous statements since Operation Cast Lead began nine days ago, that "we are trying to take all the necessary steps to avoid civilian casualties, but unfortunately they [terrorists] hide among civilians."
Sarkozy and other European officials also met Monday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to discuss the possibility of brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The European delegation was expected to arrive in Israel to meet with government leaders as Damascus-based Hamas leaders headed for Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials.
Senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud A-Zahar called on Hamas to continue the fight against Israel in a speech delivered to his fellow Gazans earlier in the day from the safety of his bunker.
"Israel is attacking Gaza from the air but has barely hit Hamas," he claimed. "I ask all Gazans to bear the war, because afterwards we will emerge victorious."