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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

FM Livni briefs foreign diplomats in Sderot

28 Dec 2008

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau)

On Sunday, 28 December, FM Tzipi Livni met in Sderot with foreign diplomats serving in Israel and briefed them on events in Gaza and the situation in southern Israel. Following are excerpts from the briefing:

This is not the first time we have met in Sderot. I know that the world is sympathetic whenever Israel is being attacked. The Israeli government must supply answers to its citizens.

Israel left the Gaza Strip years ago. The idea was that Gaza would be the beginning of the Palestinian state. That didn't happen, because Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas is a terrorist organization with a radical ideology and it's not willing to accept the demands of the international community. It is the enemy.

But Hamas is not our problem alone; it is also a problem for all the Palestinians in the region and for anyone who shares these values. The only way to achieve peace is by confronting terrorism and the opponents of the peace process. Hamas is the one placing obstacles in the path of peace, which should be everyone's goal. Hamas is illegitimate and its control of the Gaza Strip is illegitimate; it wants a zero sum game. The struggle is not between Israel and Hamas, but between moderates and extremists.

The role of the world leaders is to stand up and announce clearly: Hamas is responsible. Hamas is the ruler and Hamas put the population of Gaza in danger. Sometimes it's not easy. Hamas is manipulating the situation in order to spread more hatred.

Israel left the Gaza Strip, not in order to return, but because a state sometimes reaches a point where there is no other choice. Enough is enough. We demonstrated restraint. Six months of calm were violated on a daily basis - by them. Hamas thought that Israel wouldn't do anything and that the international community would put pressure only on Israel. I hope that they were wrong; someone has to show them that they were wrong. We have paid the price for our restraint in long-range missiles, and we have to answer to our citizens.

We proved that we want quiet. However, we need the support of the international community; that's the only way to change the reality on the ground. The equation has to be changed, and, in order to do that, we must use force.

Hamas uses its power to harm civilians. Our actions are designed to minimize the harm to civilians. Most of the people killed in the current IDF operation were wearing uniforms. We told the civilians to evacuate the places that were bombed. In order to make a change on the ground, the international community has to make the distinction between Hamas and Israel, and to put pressure on Hamas.

I don't accept the calls for a joint ceasefire. There is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization and Israel is a state defending itself. The only way to shorten this operation is to make clear that Israel has the right to defend itself and that the international community supports Israel in its confrontation with Hamas. This is not a case in which the neighborhood bully is in charge and extremism triumphs. This is the message that you must convey. It's like a reversal of the David and Goliath story in which the strong exercises restraint in facing the weak.

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