Israel: Cordial Reception for Plassnik

Die Presse (03/12/2006)

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni greeted her counterpart, Ursula Plassnik, as “friend“ in Jerusalem. Both are committed to peace.

Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik (Austrian People’s Party) was cordially received by her Israeli counterpart, Tzip Livni, in Jerusalem. Livni greeted Plassnik on Sunday as a “friend.” She emphasized the mutual meeting held the previous afternoon which opened the symposium on fifty years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Livni said at a mutual press conference that the first time she had met Plassnik was when Austria held the EU Presidency. “I discovered a leader in Plassnik who found a way to be just and clear and was capable of going into depth when confronted with a very complex situation, particularly in the Middle East. I would like to thank you for that.”

Plassnik replied in similar fashion: “I have come to meet a friend in the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, and the Foreign Minister.” Plassnik emphasized that the relationship between the two countries has become very close and that common efforts are being made in the search for peace. It is important to be concerned and committed to not being indifferent. “I have come to the Middle at a time when hope is urgently needed.”

Israel Places Three Conditions Upon Hamas
These are very delicate times regarding Israel, Palestinian autonomy and Lebanon,” said Livni. It is not a question of interests or of playing a “zero sum game;” it concerns strengthening forces that are moderate when faced with extremists. One can find the moderates in all three countries – in Israel, in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon.

When asked a question by one of the journalists, Livni replied that the Israeli government is not interested in a stillstand. But Hamas must accept three conditions (the recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and acceptance of the agreements) if they hope to help the Palestinian people. Moreover, there is the plan drafted by Ehud Olmert, “political horizon,” which could ease the situation of the Palestinians and could give them hope. “It is the task of President Mahmoud Abbas presiding over the agency for autonomy but also over the international community, to send a strong message to the terrorists and the extremists while at the same time also strengthening the moderates.”

As to the situation of the ceasefire with the Palestinians, the Israeli Minister said that she wants to talk about it in Parliament and that it is a “delicate time.” “It is important that Israel proceeds with reason because compared to conditions before the ceasefire, times have changed.”