Friday, 6 July 2007

Livni : « Developments in PA bring new threats but also new opportunities »

Livni finds allies in France


By Shirli Sitbon, Paris

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was in Paris on Wednesday for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and her Moroccan counterpart Mohamed Benaissa. Her aim was to reinforce support for moderates in the Middle East by marginalising Hamas.

Ms Livni and Mr Benaissa shared a long handshake in front of the cameras, Ms Livni declaring that their nations shared the same concerns and faced similar threats. Mr Sarkozy vowed that France would play a major role in the region.

In a press conference with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the Israeli spoke of “new opportunities” to be seized.

“Israel has no secret agenda. We just want to move forward with the new Palestinian government.”

© 2007 Erez Lichtfeld

Mr Kouchner said it was up to Israel to launch fresh efforts to revive discussions. He pleaded for a fresh release of prisoners.

He excluded any form of dialogue with Hamas for the moment.

“We always say that we have to discuss with our enemies in order to reach peace, but we must choose the right time to do so.”

Agreeing, Ms Livni said that discussions with Hamas at the present time “would annihilate the moderate Palestinian forces. Israelis, moderate Palestinians, the international community and all moderate Arab countries should work together because our goals are the same and we have a common vision of the future.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah was also in Paris on Wednesday for talks with Mr Sarkozy, who has issued supportive statements to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

Although there have been divisions within the French Foreign Ministry over whether to open discussions with Hamas, any move has been put on hold since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip.

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