Thursday, January 22, 2009

FM Livni summarizes her meeting in Brussels with EU foreign ministers

21 January 2009

Communicated by Foreign Minister's Bureau


"A few weeks ago, Israel began a military operation, after eight years of incessant attacks on its civilian population. Our purpose was to change the equation, the situation in which terrorists fired on Israeli citizens and Israel demonstrated restraint.


We achieved our objectives, and now we have to examine what is happening in the field. The issue is not only shooting. Hamas exploited the last period of calm in order to rearm and to increase the range of the weapons pointed at our citizens. Hamas armament and smuggling poses a threat to Israel that we are not prepared to accept. The international community - starting with the United States and now including Europe - understands that the need to confront this threat is common to us all.


The smuggling must be stopped. We have agreed today to work together to stop the smuggling from Iran to the Gaza Strip; Israel reserves the right to protect itself and its citizens, not only from shooting but also from smuggling.


We will cooperate with the international community in the efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip while simultaneously denying Hamas any legitimacy, as we have done ever since the organization took over Gaza.


Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, and the EU President and Czech Foreign Minister have both stated that the EU will cooperate with Israel to stop the smuggling into the Gaza Strip and will intensify this cooperation.


The ministers also spoke about the need to cooperate with Israel to enable humanitarian aid to pass through the crossings and to ensure that the ceasefire will not be fragile, but will be maintained over time."


Throughout the press conference, FM Livni referred to the fact that Gilad Shalit is still being held captive by Hamas and emphasized that, until Hamas releases the Israeli soldier, the Gaza Strip situation cannot be resolved.