Foreign Minister Livni Supports Talks With Palestinians, Even Under Fire

FM says gov't committed to dividing Israel, even after PM's 'convergence' plan is off the agenda.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni believes in talks with the Palestinians, even under fire.

"Even during Sharon's term of office, I claimed that we shouldn't say that we won't talk under fire," Livni told Haaretz in an interview, " We have an obligation to work to stop the Qassams ... But even if there's no escaping some kind of incursion, at the end the diplomatic question will remain the same."

The foreign minister hinted she had a diplomatic plan she was trying to promote, but declined to give details. "The vision is of the State of Israel as a national home for the Jewish people, which provides a solution for the problem of the Jewish refugees, and provides a national expression for each and every Jew, and alongside it a Palestinian state that is the national home of the Palestinian nation, which provides a full and complete solution for the problem of the Palestinian refugees," she said.

Her statements give the impression that she wants to "skip over" the first stage of the road map, which involves diplomatic progress in stopping terror. The road map, she said, "affirms that in the second stage, a state with temporary borders and symbols of sovereignty will be established. I think I can conduct talks with Abbas that will clarify what they want to achieve in the two-state vision," she added.

As to whether the present government is committed to dividing the land, even after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's convergence plan is off the agenda, Livni answered in the affirmative. The dividing line, according to Livni, is the separation fence, and the public will support the evacuation of tens of thousands of settlers who live beyond it. "The behavior of the Palestinians in Gaza after the disengagement creates a major problem. But I believe that, in the final analysis, if a reasonable solution is found for the security issues, most of the Israeli public will support this process," she said.

As to whether the establishment of a Palestinian state was a possible goal of this government, she said, "I don't like to set timetables...But I see a type of opportunity. On the one hand, we're surrounded by a growing threat and extremism and zealotry. On the other hand, precisely because of this threat, moderate countries and moderate factors in the region understand today that their problem is not Israel."