debkafile: Washington greets Israel’s new foreign minister Tzipi Livni with full honors – and frowns for unilateralist policy on Hamas
Thursday, Feb. 9, she meets vice president Dick Cheney. President Bush may look in on her White House meeting with national security adviser Stephen Hadley. Livni goes on to New York Thursday be hosted by UN secretary Kofi Annan and become the first Israeli official to air the Iranian nuclear program with the five permanent members of the Security Council
But Livni’s talks Wednesday with secretary of state Condoleezza Rice left US, Israeli positions poles apart. At their news conference, Rice made no bones of what was expected of Israel as the price for Livni’s warm welcome. She had her say first – then left the room, leaving her Israeli counterpart alone to brand a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority a terrorist entity leading to “a terror state,”
Before she left, Rice said the new Palestinian leadership “must recognize Israel’s right to exist,” and urged dialogue over unilateral moves.
The secretary added: “We certainly hope that over the next period of time there will be a partner for Israel to deal with. That is everyone`s hope for the roadmap. That depends on what happens in the Palestinian territories.”
In a couple of sharp sentences, Rice rejected in advance Livni’s disqualification of Hamas as a negotiating partner and negation of a Hamas terror state. She also briskly dismissed caretaker PM Ehud Olmert’s manifesto, as broadcast Tuesday, to work for permanent borders and the separation of the Jewish state from the majority of Palestinians, hand over large West Bank tracts while retaining the main settlement blocs and united Jerusalem and exercising control over Israel’s eastern border.
These are matters for final-status negotiations, she said dismissively for Olmert’s benefit, following the same line taken by the Bush administration when this policy was pursued by Ariel Sharon. “Under no circumstances should anyone try and do that in a preemptive or predetermined way, because these are issues for negotiation at final status.”
She thus removed the ball from Israel’s court to the Palestinian side.
Livni then stood before the assembled media, who were curious to see and hear the attractive young minister, and said that international custom requires sanctions against a state ruled by a designated terrorist organization, namely Hamas.
But they were all aware that the international community has never yet got its act together enough to lay sanctions – even on such avowed terrorist states as Syria and Iran. The world continued to pump donations to Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority at the peak of his terror campaigns.
It was obvious from these dissonances that the foreign minister’s US trip had been arranged hastily weeks after she took on the job without the proper spadework. Olmert’s caretaker government and his Kadima party therefore set out to face the voter next month after being treated to a cold shower by Israel’s foremost ally and friend.