Tuesday, February 17, 2009
09:04 Mecca time, 06:04 GMT
News Middle East
Israel FM: 'Give land for peace'
Netanyahu halted the peace process when he was prime minister by allowing
settlement building [AFP] Tzipi
Livni, the Israeli foreign minister who is hoping to become the
country's next prime minister, has said that Israel must give up
considerable territory to gain peace with the Palestinians.
Livni made the comments at a convention of US Jewish leaders in Jerusalem on
said that Israel needed to "give up parts of the Land of Israel" -
referring to biblical borders that today includes Israel, the West Bank
and the Gaza Strip.
"The majority of Israelis understand that if Israel wants to remain
an independent Jewish state, in the end the territory will have to be
divided," Livni, leader of the Kadima party, said.
Livni has in the past said that Israel must withdraw from Palestinian areas to
continue as a Jewish state.
Her fresh comments are in contrast to the position of Benjamin
Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud party and Livni's main
rival to become next prime minister.
Livni also said that the internationally backed Annapolis peace process should
be continued to maintain foreign support.
"If we don't continue with the plan, we will not be able to count on
the support of the international community against Iran, Hezbollah [a
Lebanese political party and armed group] or Hamas [which has de facto
control of the Gaza Strip]," she said.
"We can carry out negotiations while still fighting against terrorism."
The peace process aims to establish separate Palestinian and Israeli
states, and was re-launched at Annapolis, in Maryland in the US, in
2007 after a seven-year hiatus.
Livni, as foreign minister, has been a key player in negotiations.
Kadima won parliamentary elections last week, but gained only one more seat
Livni may therefore not have enough support among the other parties
to form a workable ruling coalition, leaving the way open for Netanyahu
to create a government.
The Kadima leader has called for a power-sharing deal with Likud, but no
agreement has been reached.
In a television interview later on Monday, Livni said that as prime
minister she would make progress on the peace process rather than
putting it on hold.
Netanyahu has said that peace talks should look to improve Palestinian daily
life before discussions on core issues can begin.
Livni's comments came on the same day that the Israeli military took
control of a large area of the West Bank, potentially leading to the
construction of a settlement of 2,500 homes.
Israeli settlement activity has continued in the occupied West Bank, despite
the practice being illegal under international law.
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