Livni Warns of EU Boycott if Peace With Palestinians Isn't Reached

Justice minister warns that failure to make progress in peace process with Palestinians could affect Israeli economy; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirms he is ready for direct negotiations.

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Justice Minister Tzipi Livni warned Monday that a failure to make progress in the peace process with the Palestinians could have implications for Israeli exports.

Livni said that the discourse in the European Union has become more centered on ideology, even when it comes to economic issues. For this reason, she said, calls for an economic boycott of Israel have grown louder recently.

"True, it started with the settlements," she said. "But the [EU's] problem is with Israel, which is seen as a colonialist state. It won't stop with the settlements but will spread to the rest of the country."

Livni, who is the minister responsible for negotiations with the Palestinians, made the remarks during an accountants convention in Eilat.

In her speech, Livni also urged young activists to rally in favor of a peace agreement with the same fervor that they devoted to protesting against plans to export Israel's gas.

"We must ask what kind of state will be the benefactor of these gas reservoirs," she said. "A democratic, Jewish State of Israel? A binational Arab state? Or perhaps an apartheid state? We can't deal with the economic issues while ignoring the diplomatic issue and the importance of the two-state solution."

The justice minister asserted that the majority of Israel's citizens supports the two-state solution if the necessary security arrangements are made. But she also noted that there is a small fringe group that believes that if it "takes over another hill, it can prevent us from reaching an agreement."

Livni dismissed reports that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who left Israel on Sunday after meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials, has failed in his efforts to renew the talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"I was particularly angered by all the whining over the failure of the efforts," she said. "But the fact is, [Kerry] spent a brief period of time here, and then had to go. He left behind two people to continue the efforts. [Kerry] deserves our gratitude. He cares about what happens here Our job is to help him Some people are breathing easier now that he has left, as though it's all over. Ladies and gentlemen, the problem persists, and we will continue to try and solve it."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that he is ready for direct talks with the Palestinians, and acknowledged that Kerry was committed to the same goal.

"We want peace," he said as he readied to enter a meeting with his Italian counterpart, Enrico Letta. "I want peace. We want to restart peace negotiations as soon as possible, without any obstacles. We have to get into the tent and stay in the tent and seek to end this conflict between Israel and the Palestinians." 

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and aides meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.Credit: AP

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