Speaking after a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Isreali Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has called for all parties that support the Palestinian peace process to unite, and is thought to be the most likely successor to Ehud Olmert.
UNITED NATIONS, July 31 (Reuters) - Israeli Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni said on Thursday that she continues to
hope for a peace deal with the Palestinians this year and
called on all parties that support peace to unite.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Livni said she has been striving
to reach an agreement with the Palestinians.
"We promised to make all the efforts to do so during this
year. We continue to do so," she said, echoing comments from
the White House on Wednesday. Livni is Israel's chief
negotiator in the U.S.-brokered negotiations with the
Palestinians aimed at getting a comprehensive peace agreement.
The Palestinians have complained that Israeli plans to
expand a settlement in the Palestinian territories was
undermining the peace process. Livni said both sides had
complaints but these should not be allowed to harm the talks.
"There are some excuses that all of us can use or abuse in
order to say something about the peace process or the peace
negotiations," Livni said.
Livni did not directly comment on opposition Likud party
leader Benjamin Netanyahu's call for snap elections after Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert announced his resignation when his Kadima
party chooses a new leader in September.
However, she indicated that her party wanted to form a
government without an early election, calling on all parties
that support an agenda of strengthening Israel's security and
combating existing threats from abroad to unite under the
centrist Kadima party.
"Kadima is the party that should lead those processes," she
said in an unofficial translation of comments in Hebrew.
"I will continue to call on any party that can be a partner
to this agenda and could represent those interests to put aside
all these internal calculations" and join Kadima, she added.
Livni said Olmert, who has been plagued by scandals and
accusations of corruption, had made the right decision, adding
that it was now up to Kadima to reorder itself.
"Yesterday's announcement was not very easy for the prime
minister to make. It was the right thing to do. The Kadima
party has to regroup and do what Kadima was formed to do."
In the short term, she said, changes on the domestic
political scene will have no impact on Israeli policy.
"The fact that there are internal changes does not change
the fact that a threat exists," she said. "It doesn't change
the interests of Israel that we are obligated to represent."
She reiterated that Iran's nuclear program, which Israel
and Western nations say is aimed at producing atomic weapons,
remains a major threat to Israel. Tehran says its nuclear
program is aimed solely at the peaceful generation of power.
Livni, 50, is widely seen as the most likely successor to
Olmert in Kadima.
Date created : 2008-08-01